Best Translated Book of 2008: Fiction Longlist

December 4, 2008—Announced today on the Three Percent website (rochester.edu/threepercent), the 2008 Best Translated Book of the Year Fiction Longlist reflects the vibrancy and high quality of the books in translation being published in the United States. Featuring authors from all over the world, including Nobel Prize winners and first-time novelists, and published by presses of all sizes, this longlist will be narrowed down to ten finalists on January 27th, with a winner being announced at a reception on February 19th at the Melville House offices in Brooklyn, NY.

“Fans of international literature spend most of the year grumbling about how few books in translation are published here in the States,” said Chad W. Post, one of the judges and curator of Three Percent. “It’s nice to spend a couple months celebrating the great books that did make their way into English. And since there’s an inevitable time-lag in books getting translated, we can create a list that includes established classic authors like Marcel Proust and Halldór Laxness along with newcomers Céline Curiol and Horacio Castellanos Moya. And a host of great translators as well, such as Gregory Rabassa, Charlotte Mandell, and Tim Wilkinson.”

This award, which started last year in reaction to the lack of international titles on “best of the year” lists, was created to bring attention to the great works of international literature being published in the United States. Criteria used in selecting these titles include the quality of the work itself, along with the quality of the translation. This is the only award in America honoring international literature that is given to the book itself.

The twenty-five longlist titles are:

The Book of Chameleons by José Eduardo Agualusa, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn (Simon & Schuster)

What Can I Do When Everything’s On Fire? by António Lobo Antunes, translated from the Portuguese by Gregory Rabassa (W. W. Norton)

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, translated from the French by Alison Anderson (Europa Editions)

Tranquility by Attila Bartis, translated from the Hungarian by Imre Goldstein (Archipelago)

2666 by Roberto Bolaño, translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Nazi Literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolaño, translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews (New Directions)

Voice Over by Céline Curiol, translated from the French by Sam Richard (Seven Stories)

The Waitress Was New by Dominique Fabre, translated from the French by Jordan Stump (Archipelago)

The Taker and Other Stories by Rubem Fonseca, translated from the Portuguese by Clifford Landers (Open Letter)

The Darkroom of Damocles by Willem Frederik Hermans, translated from the Dutch by Ina Rilke (Overlook)

Homage to Czerny: Studies in Virtuoso Technique by Gert Jonke, translated from the German by Jean Snook (Dalkey Archive)

Metropole by Ferenc Karinthy, translated from the Hungarian by George Szirtes (Telegram)

Detective Story by Imre Kertesz, translated from the Hungarian by Tim Wilkinson (Knopf)

Yalo by Elias Khoury, translated from the Arabic by Peter Theroux (Archipelago)

The Great Weaver from Kashmirby Halldór Laxness, translated from the Icelandic by Philip Roughton (Archipelago)

I’d Like by Amanda Michalopoulou, translated from the Greek by Karen Emmerich (Dalkey Archive)

The Enormity of the Tragedy by Quim Monzo, translated from the Catalan by Peter Bush (Peter Owen)

Senselessness by Horacio Castellanos Moya, translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver (New Directions)

The Lemoine Affair by Marcel Proust, translated from the French by Charlotte Mandell (Melville House)

Death with Interruptions by José Saramago, translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Unforgiving Years by Victor Serge, translated from the French by Richard Greeman (New York Review Books)

Camera by Jean-Philippe Toussaint, translated from the French by Matthew Smith (Dalkey Archive)

Khirbet Khizeh by S. Yizhar, translated from the Hebrew by Nicholas de Lange (Ibis Editions)

Bonsai by Alejandro Zambra, translated from the Spanish by Carolina De Robertis (Melville House)

The Post-Office Girl by Stefan Zweig, translated from the German by Joel Rotenberg (New York Review Books)

This year’s panelists included Monica Carter, bookseller at Skylight Books and editor of Salonica ; Steve Dolph, editor of CALQUE; Scott Esposito, editor of Conversational Reading and The Quarterly Conversation; Brandon Kennedy, bookseller at Spoonbill & Sugartown ; Michael Orthofer, editor of the Literary Saloon and Complete Review; Chad W. Post, director of Open Letter Books and Three Percent; E.J. Van Lanen, senior editor of Open Letter Books and Three Percent; and Jeff Waxman, bookseller at the Seminary Co-op Bookstores and editor of The Front Table.

Both the fiction finalists and the poetry finalists will be announced on January 27, with winning titles announced on February 19. One-a-day over the next seven weeks, each of the longlist titles will be specially highlighted on the Three Percent website.

For additional information about the award, panelists, selected titles, or on how to reach the authors and translators, please contact Chad W. Post at 585.319.0823 orchad.post@rochester.edu.

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