Maya Abu Al-Hayyat’s ‘You Can Be the Last Leaf,’ Tr. Fady Joudah, Makes Inaugural Barrios Book in Translation Longlist

DECEMBER 8, 2022 — The National Book Critics Circle today announced the twelve-book longlist for their inaugural Barrios Book in Translation Prize. The works are in a variety of genres — works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and a graphic novel — and are translated from ten different languages: Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, French, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish.

The Arabic work on the list is Maya Abu Al-Hayyat’s deeply honest and funny You Can Be the Last Leaf, in a warm and open-hearted translation by poet-translator Fady Joudah.

The new prize is named for late NBCC board member Gregg Barrios and “celebrates the artistic merit of literature in translation in any genre and seeks to recognize the valuable work of translators in expanding and enriching American literary culture by bringing world literature to English-language readers.”

Tara Wanda Merrigan, NBCC’s Vice President for the Barrios Book in Translation Prize, said in a prepared statement:

Releasing the first Barrios Prize longlist is a proud moment for the National Book Critics Circle. While the NBCC has long considered books in translation for its other awards, it’s a significant step to honor works in translation specifically. The 2022 longlist celebrates twelve worthy books which Anglophone readers can access wholly thanks to the work of translators and their publisher partners.

The Barrios longlist committee considered nearly 300 books in translation published in the United States in 2022. The judging committee includes: Maria H Barrera-Agarwal, Mandana Chaffa, Tara Cheesman, Adam Dalva, Jaquira Díaz, Shelley Frisch, Heather Green, Nichole LeFebvre, Jo Livingstone, Tara Wanda Merrigan, Cory Oldweiler, and Mira Rosenthal.

According to organizers, voting for the Barrios Book in Translation Prize’s shortlist “will be conducted in the month of January and voting for the prize winner in the following month. This voting process is open to NBCC voting members in good standing as of January 5, 2023.” Those who wish to join and vote should register via the NBCC’s website before January 5, 2023. 

The winners are set to be announced at the NBCC Awards on March 23 in New York City.

The complete longlist:

  • A Summer Day in the Company of Ghosts by Wang Yin, translated from Chinese by Andrea Lingenfelter, Poetry (New York Review Books)
  • A Woman’s Battles and Transformations by Édouard Louis, translated by Tash Aw from French, Nonfiction (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Grey Bees by Andrey Kurkov, translated by Boris Dralyuk from Russian, Fiction (Deep Vellum)
  • Kibogo by Scholastique Mukasonga, translated by Mark Polizzotti from French, Fiction (Archipelago)
  • Linea Nigra by Jazmina Barrera, translated from Spanish by Christina McSweeney, Nonfiction (Two Lines Press)
  • Pachinko Parlor by Elisa Shua Dusapin, translated by Aneesa Abbas Higginsfrom French, Fiction (Open Letter)
  • Present Tense Machine by Gunnhild Øyehaug, translated by Kari Dickson from Norwegian, Fiction (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft from Polish, Fiction (Riverhead)
  • Violets by Kyung-sook Shin, translated by Anton Hur from Korean, Fiction (Feminist Press)
  • Walk Me to the Corner by Anneli Furmark, translated by Hanna Strömbergfrom Swedish, Graphic Novel (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • When I Sing Mountains Dance, by Irene Solà, translated by Mara Faye Lethemfrom Catalan, Fiction (Graywolf)
  • You Can Be the Last Leaf by Maya Abu Al-Hayyat, translated by Fady Joudahfrom Arabic, Poetry (Milkweed Editions)

More from You Can Be the Last Leaf:

Two Laughter Poems & a Cover Reveal from Maya Abu al-Hayyat’s ‘You Can Be the Last Leaf’

Daydream,” with an introduction by Lena Tuffaha

‘A Contemporary Novel’ by Maya Abu al-Hayat & Five More

Three Translated Poems at the Los Angeles Review of Books: We,” “Massacres,” and “I Don’t Ask Anymore.”