30 November 2010

Reading list: WLT's top 40

No, the compilation of lists isn't over yet. I'll have a couple of posts more. Bear with me.


On the occasion of their 75th anniversary, the World Literature Today magazine published their list of 40 most important works from 1927 to 2001. In terms of scope, this one appears to be a more focused list. It has a shorter time frame (75 years), for one. The coverage is also international and, thankfully, within the 20th century.

What I like about the list is that it's short. Only 40 titles, not the usual 100 best-of lists, not the 1001 that you have to scroll down before you die. Somehow, miraculously, 4 genres (poetry, fiction, drama, essays) are represented. And, so far as I can make out, more than half (23 titles) are books in translation. At least they somehow live up to the name of world literature. But how they came up with it is a mystery. It's an altogether brave, if flawed, list.


World Literature Today's top 40 most important works, 1927-2001

1927 To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf, England

1928 The Gypsy Ballads (Romancero gitano) - Federico Garcia Lorca, Spain

1928 The Tower - William Butler Yeats, Ireland

1929 The Sound and the Fury - William Faulkner, United States

1931 The Turning Point (I strofi) - George Seferis, Greece

1933-47 Residence on Earth (Residencia en la tierra) - Pablo Neruda, Chile

1934 Independent People (Sjalfstaett folk) - Halldor Laxness, Iceland

1935-40 Requiem (Rekviem) - Anna Akhmatova, Russia

1941 Mother Courage and Her Children (Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder) - Bertolt Brecht, Germany

1942 The Stranger (L'etranger) - Albert Camus, France

1943 The Four Quartets - T. S. Eliot, England/United States

1944 Ficciones - Jorge Luis Borges, Argentina

1945 "The Day Before Yesterday" [aka Only Yesterday] (Tmol shilshom) - S. Y. Agnon, Spain/Israel

1948 Snow Country (Yukiguni) - Yasunari Kawabata, Japan

1950 The Labyrinth of Solitude (El laberinto de la soledad) - Octavio Paz, Mexico

1952 Waiting for Godot (En attendant Godot) - Samuel Beckett, Ireland

1952 Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison, United States

1952 The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway, United States

1952 In Country Sleep - Dylan Thomas, Wales

1953 The Lost Steps (Los pasos perdidos) - Alejo Carpentier, Cuba

1956 The Devil to Pay in the Backlands (Grande sertao: veredas) - Joao Guimaraes Rosa, Brazil

1956-57 The Cairo Trilogy (Al-Thulathiyya) - Naguib Mahfouz, Egypt

1957 Voss - Patrick White, England/Australia

1958 Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe, Nigeria

1958 The Guide - R. K. Narayan, India

1959 The Tin Drum (Die Blechtrommel) - Gunter Grass, Germany

1961 A House for Mr Biswas - V. S. Naipaul, Trinidad

1961 The Book of Disquiet (Livro do desassossego) - Fernando Pessoa, Portugal

1962 The Golden Notebook - Doris Lessing, Zimbabwe/England

1962 Pale Fire - Vladimir Nabokov, Russia/United States

1962 The Time of the Doves (La Placa del Diamant) - Merce Rodoreda, Spain

1962 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Odin den' Ivana Denisovicha) - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Russia

1964 A Personal Matter (Kojinteki-na taiken) - Kenzaburo Oe, Japan

1966 Collected Shorter Poems 1927-1957 - W. H. Auden, England

1967 One Hundred Years of Solitude (Cien anos de soledad) - Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Colombia

1968 House Made of Dawn - N. Scott Momaday, United States

1972 Invisible Cities (Le citta invisibili) - Italo Calvino, Italy

1974 The Conservationist - Nadine Gordimer, South Africa

1978 Bells in Winter - Czeslaw Milosz, Poland

1987 Red Sorghum (Hung kao liang) - Mo Yan, China

Source: http://www.baylor.edu/english/index.php?id=45859

28 November 2010

"Ernesto Cardenal and I" (Roberto Bolaño)

I've added the link to the poem "Ernesto Cardenal and I" to "A guide to online writings of Roberto Bolaño." I somehow missed including this poem whose translation first appeared in Poetry magazine in 2008. The translator is Laura Healy, though she wasn't credited in the Poetry Foundation site. It's also in the collection The Romantic Dogs.

Ernesto Cardenal (b. 1925) was a Catholic priest and poet from Nicaragua. Bolaño also wrote about Cardenal in a flash essay in Between Parentheses (forthcoming in translation from New Directions). He considered him "one of Latin America's greatest poets."

26 November 2010

In Cebu

I was in Lahug, Cebu City, these past four days to attend a national workshop on coastal research and adaptive management for climate change. I was with two colleagues; each of us presented a paper. Mine was an ongoing study about a coral reef ecosystem-based model to estimate sustainable yields of live reef food fish.

At Mactan Airport before our flight back to Puerto Princesa, via a connection to Manila, I took some pictures of souvenir and delicacy shops. Guitars as colorful as jeepneys - each can cost up to 2,500 pesos inside the airport! Best to buy them in the city shops were they are cheaper. I bought half a kilo of dried ripe mangoes, of good quality and without the fluffy texture, the seller assured me. I also bought two kinds of local specialty biscuits: otap and piyaya. The seller was kind enough to tell me which brands to buy. The lechon (suckling pig) in one of the stalls was tempting too!

16 November 2010

"Papel, Gunting, Bato" (Mark Angeles)

Rock, Paper, Scissors
by Mark Angeles

Rock, Paper, Scissors:
try for a third of throws.
Which heart is yours?
The paper that flies away,
the scissors that shears away,
or the rock that crumbles down?

Rock, Paper, Scissors:
Which heart is yours?

- from Patikim ("First Taste")
Translated from Filipino

15 November 2010

Reading list: Winners of Best Translated Book Award

The Best Translated Book Award (BTBA) was created in 2007 by Three Percent, the international literature website of New York's University of Rochester. It is awarded in two categories: fiction and poetry. The inaugural awards in 2008 were chosen by popular vote of readers, while in the past two years the winners were chosen by a panel of judges.

All original translations published in the U.S. are qualified for the award. Re-translations and reprints are not eligible. The entries are judged for the "complete package" of the book, not only for the translation but for the work of the original writer, translator, editor, and publisher.
Below is the list of winners and finalists for the BTBA fiction category.



The Confessions of Noa Weber by Gail Hareven (Israel, Melville House)
Translated from the Hebrew by Dalya Bilu


Anonymous Celebrity by Ignácio de Loyola Brandão (Brazil, Dalkey Archive Press)
Translated from the Portuguese by Nelson Vieira

The Discoverer by Jan Kjærstad (Norway, Open Letter)
Translated from the Norwegian by Barbara Haveland

Ghosts by César Aira (Argentina, New Directions)
Translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews

Memories of the Future by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (Russia, New York Review Books)
Translated from the Russian by Joanne Turnbull

Rex by José Manuel Prieto (Cuba, Grove Books)
Translated from the Spanish by Esther Allen

The Tanners by Robert Walser (Switzerland, New Directions)
Translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky

The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker (Netherlands, Archipelago Books)
Translated from the Dutch by David Colmer

The Weather Fifteen Years Ago by Wolf Haas (Austria, Ariadne Press)
Translated from the German by Stephanie Gilardi and Thomas S Hansen

Wonder by Hugo Claus (Belgium, Archipelago Books)
Translated from the Dutch by Michael Henry Heim



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


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

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

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

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

Yalo by Elias Khoury (Archipelago Books)
Translated from the Arabic by Peter Theroux

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

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

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

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

2010 translated fiction shortlist
2010 translated poetry finalists

14 November 2010

Reading list: Winners of Prix Femina Étranger

The Prix Femina is a French literary prize created in 1904 by 22 writers for the magazine La Vie heureuse (now known as Femina). The annual prize is decided by an exclusively female jury, although the authors of the winning works do not have to be women. The Prix Femina Étranger is the prize category awarded to foreign writers, starting from 1985. In the list of winning books below, some titles are in French or English.

Winners of the Prix Femina Étranger

2010 Puhdistus - Sofi Oksanen

2009 Maurice mit Huhn - Matthias Zschokke

2008 Chaos calme (Caos Calmo) - Sandro Veronesi

2007 Le goût de la mère (Mother's Milk) - Edward St. Aubyn

2006 L'Histoire de Chicago May (The Story of Chicago May) - Nuala O'Faolain

2005 The Falls - Joyce Carol Oates

2004 Sang impur (The Speckled People) - Hugo Hamilton

2003 La porte (The Door) - Magda Szabó

2002 Montedidio (God's Mountain) - Erri De Luca

2001 Mauvaise Pente (The Long Falling) - Keith Ridgway

2000 Mon Frère (My Brother) - Jamaica Kincaid

1999 Le Bouddha blanc (The White Buddha) - Hitonari Tsuji

1998 Pleine Lune (Plenilunio/Full Moon) - Antonio Muñoz Molina

1997 La Capitale déchue (The Abandoned Capital) - Jia Pingwa

1996 Demain dans la bataille, pense à moi (Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me) - Javier Marías

1995 Rouge décanté (Sunken Red) - Jeroen Brouwers

1994 Royaume interdit (Sacred Country) - Rose Tremain

1993 L'Enfant volé (The Child in Time) - Ian McEwan

1992 Talking It Over - Julian Barnes

1991 Ce vaste monde (The Great World) - David Malouf

1990 Matin perdu - Vergilio Ferreira

1989 La Vérité sur Lorin Jones (The Truth About Lorin Jones) - Alison Lurie

1988 La Boîte noire (Black Box) - Amos Oz

1987 Mouflets (Monkeys) - Susan Minot

1986 Bethsabée (Bathsheba) - Torgny Lindgren

1985 Michael K, sa vie, son temps (Life & Times of Michael K) – J. M. Coetzee


13 November 2010

Reading list: Winners of the Orange Prize for Fiction

The annual Orange Prize for Fiction is awarded to the woman who the judges think has written the best novel in English. It is open to any full length novel written in English by a woman of any nationality, and published for the first time in the UK. Translations of books from other languages are not considered for the prize. The prize is run by a Women’s Committee and administered by Booktrust, a national charity. The sponsor of the prize is Orange (www.orange.co.uk).

The Orange Prize is judged by five women from a variety of occupations (writers, critics, broadcasters, book trade or library representatives) and from other fields of work who are at the top of their profession and have a passion for reading.

Prizes: £30,000 and a limited edition bronze figurine called the 'Bessie' created by the artist Grizel Niven

Site: http://www.orangeprize.co.uk/home

Winners of the Orange Prize:

2010 The Lacuna Barbara Kingsolver

2009 Home Marilynne Robinson

2008 The Road Home Rose Tremain

2007 Half of a Yellow Sun Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

2006 On Beauty Zadie Smith

2005 We Need to Talk About Kevin Lionel Shriver

2004 Small Island Andrea Levy

2003 Property Valerie Martin

2002 Bel Canto Ann Patchett

2001 The Idea of Perfection Kate Grenville

2000 When I Lived in Modern Times Linda Grant

1999 A Crime in the Neighbourhood Suzanne Berne

1998 Larry's Party Carol Shields

1997 Fugitive Pieces Anne Michaels

1996 A Spell of Winter Helen Dunmore

12 November 2010

Reading list: The 100 best Arabic books

Top 20 of the 100 best Arabic books, according to the Arab Writer's Union.


1. The Cairo Trilogy, by Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz. Trans. William Maynard Hutchins. Everyman’s Library, 2001.

2. In Search of Walid Masoud, by the Palestinian author Jabra Ibrahim Jabra. Trans. Adnan Haydar & Roger Allen. Syracuse University Press, 2000.

3. Honor, by the Egyptian writer Sonallah Ibrahim. Untranslated.

4. War in the Land of Egypt, by the Egyptian Yusuf al-Qa’id. Trans. Olive and Lorne Kenny and Christopher Tingley. Interlink, 1997.

5. Men in the Sun, by the Palestinian author Ghassan Kanafani. Trans. Hilary Kilpatrick. Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1998.

6. The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist, by Palestinian Emile Habibi. Trans. Salma Khadra Jayyusi. Interlink, 2001.

7. The Desolate Time, by Syrian author Haidar Haidar. Untranslated.

8. Rama and the Dragon, by the Egyptian Edward al Kharrat. Trans. Ferial Ghazoul and John Verlenden. AUC Press, 2002.

9. Thus Spoke Abu Huraira, by the Tunisian author Mahmoud Messadi. Translated into French. Untranslated in English.

10. Beirut Nightmares, by Syrian author Ghada Samman. Trans. Nancy N. Roberts. Quartet Books, 1998.

11. The Animists, by Libyan author Ibrahim al-Koni. Trans. Elliot Colla. AUC Press, 2012.

12. Tattoo, by Iraqi author Abdul Rahman Majeed al-Rubaie. Trans. Shakir Mustafa. Unpublished(?).

13. The Long Way Back, by Iraqi author Fouad Al-Takarli. Trans. Catherine Cobham. AUC Press, 2007.

14. The Sail and the Storm, by Syrian author Hanna Mina (aka Hanna Minah). Untranslated.

15. Zayni Barakat, by the Egyptian author Gamal al-Ghitani. Trans. Farouk Abdel Wahab Mustafa. Penguin, 1990.

16: Gardens of the Night, a trilogy by Libyan author Ahmad Ibrahim al-Faqih. Quartet Books, 1995.

17. I Live, by Lebanese author Leila Baalbaki. Untranslated.

18. No One Sleeps in Alexandria, by Egyptian author Ibrahim Abdel Meguid. Trans. Farouk Abdel Wahab Mustafa. AUC Press, 2007.

19. Love in Exile, by Egyptian author Bahaa Taher. Trans. Farouk Abdel Wahab Mustafa. AUC Press, 2001.

20. The Cycles of the East, by the Syrian novelist Nabil Suleiman. Untranslated.

See the rest of the 105 books in this great site here:



11 November 2010

Reading list: 25 greatest science books of all time

The essential science reading list according to the editors of DISCOVER Magazine. Published in the December 2006 issue.

1. and 2. The Voyage of the Beagle (1845) and The Origin of Species (1859) by Charles Darwin [tie]

3. Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) by Isaac Newton (1687)

4. Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems by Galileo Galilei (1632)

5. De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres) by Nicolaus Copernicus (1543)

6. Physica (Physics) by Aristotle (circa 330 B.C.)

7. De Humani Corporis Fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body) by Andreas Vesalius (1543)

8. Relativity: The Special and General Theory by Albert Einstein (1916)

9. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins (1976)

10. One Two Three . . . Infinity by George Gamow (1947)

11. The Double Helix by James D. Watson (1968)

12. What Is Life? by Erwin Schrödinger (1944)

13. The Cosmic Connection by Carl Sagan (1973)

14. The Insect Societies by Edward O. Wilson (1971)

15. The First Three Minutes by Steven Weinberg (1977)

16. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962)

17. The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould (1981)

18. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks (1985)

19. The Journals of Lewis and Clark by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark (1814)

20. The Feynman Lectures on Physics by Richard P. Feynman, Robert B. Leighton, and Matthew Sands (1963)

21. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male by Alfred C. Kinsey et al. (1948)

22. Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey (1983)

23. Under a Lucky Star by Roy Chapman Andrews (1943)

24. Micrographia by Robert Hooke (1665)

25. Gaia by James Lovelock (1979)

Honorable Mentions

1. The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud (1900)

2. The Lives of a Cell by Lewis Thomas (1974)

3. The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James (1902)

4. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. Kuhn (1962)

5. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (1988)

6. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond (1997)

7. The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene (1999)

8. The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes (1986)

Source: http://discovermagazine.com/2006/dec/25-greatest-science-books/

10 November 2010

The Stalin Front (Gert Ledig)

The Stalin Front, also published as The Stalin Organ, by Gert Ledig (1921-1999) is a novel about Russo-German fighting during World War II. It was first published in German in 1955, sixteen years after the author volunteered in the army. The English translation by Michael Hofmann appeared only recently in 2004. The novel constitutes Ledig's graphic reminiscences of the war. Its imagery brings to my mind recent war films like Saving Private Ryan by Steven Spielberg and The Thin Red Line by Terrence Malick.

The novelist must have an acute memory to be able to indelibly register such brutal and cruel moments of war - but what else to expect of bloody wars - or else an abnormal capacity to absorb the violence. The mess and chaos are sustained throughout the entire book in a visceral, realistic, and natural prose style. Consider the opening scenes in the prologue:

The Lance-Corporal couldn't turn in his grave, because he didn't have one. Some three versts from Podrova, forty versts south of Leningrad, he had been caught in a salvo of rockets, been thrown up in the air, and with severed hands and head dangling, been impaled on the skeletal branches of what once had been a tree.

   The NCO who was writhing on the ground with a piece of shrapnel in his belly, had no idea what was keeping his machine-gunner. It didn't occur to him to look up. He had his hands full with himself.

Such is the cinematic power of Ledig's novel that the words paint battle scenes in color, albeit the gray and brown and black colors of smoking tanks, muddy fields, and filthy uniforms, and the deep red color of blood spurting like merry fountains. More than reading a shooting script or screenplay, the reader seems to be watching the whole thing unfold on the big screen. The sound effects are deafening; the chamber music is literally absent; the editing is sharply executed. The pauses and the silences in between the hail of bullets do not give respite to the viewer. Instead they provoke a heightened sense of danger. The novel replicates the dread, boredom, over-fatigue, and nervous breakdown in a large modern scale war.

The story follows a group of soldiers as they try to either defend their position in the front or to attack the enemy. The "Stalin organ" refers to the automatic weapon (multiple rocket launcher) used by the Russian side to efficiently wipe out the Germans. Ledig picks up both points of view of the Russian and German soldiers that the reader is sometimes confused which side he is reading about. Eventually it dawns on us that it doesn't matter whether the story told is that of the German or the Russian side. Humanity has the same face and every one is interchangeable. Every man is an everyman whose life is readily extinguished by a bullet or bayonet.

The story is broken into short chapters that show the characters in the midst of combat and deliberating moral choices that test and define their physical and moral resilience. The characters, instead of being called by their names, are often reduced to their ranks (i.e., the Lance-Corporal, the Runner, the Sergeant, the Major, the Captain). Michael Hoffman, the translator of the novel from the German, mentioned in his introduction that he purposely capitalized the ranks of the characters to make them more distinct from each other. This stylistic choice of substituting ranks to names allows for easy recognition of the characters. One can imagine the difficulty of trying to ascertain the identities of soldiers through all the chaos and wasteland. This choice of the translator, however, may have undermined Ledig's apparent vision of the universality of men. That, again, every man is everyone in war, and each soldier (the lance-corporal, the runner, the sergeant, the major, the captain) slides into anonymity in the face of annihilation. Each may be acting according to his rank, with winning the war as the primary objective, but this is superseded by a more pressing individual concern, which is the concern of all: to survive, to preserve one's critically endangered life.

I bought this book on the strength of W. G. Sebald's blurb at the back of the NYRB edition. The blurb is taken from Sebald's essay "Air War and Literature," from the book On the Natural History of Destruction. Sebald's essay takes to task the postwar German writers for failing to record the destruction wrought by wars. For Sebald, the books of Ledig, as well as that of Heinrich Böll and Peter Weiss, among others, are a rare exception to this apparent defect in the German letters. Sebald champions the kind of novels that speak plainly and precisely, and with unpretentious objectivity, as opposed to novels full of "aesthetic or pseudo-aesthetic effects." He favors the concrete and documentary style of writing over the abstract and imaginary. For Sebald, accounts of suffering must be commensurate to the magnitude of the human loss; these are the kind of novels worth writing about in the face of total destruction.

What particularly sets Ledig's first novel apart from other stories of modern war and conflict is its own sense of the poetic injustice of men fighting fellow men, its cast-iron sense of irony, and its non-compromised portrayal of a "natural history of destruction." The natural history of war, in its literal sense, can pertain to a respect for Nature and the idea of war as a direct assault against it. This is achieved through poetic engagement with the natural world and the senseless plight of human beings in this theater. One can think of the images of the flowing grass and the wildlife in The Thin Red Line, but with less gratuitous intent as the images are part of or combined in the action. The insects and the trees have their own cameo roles in the novel:

   As soon as he entered the wood, he felt alone. The brush, the birch trunks - everything was silent. The log-road, built by Russian soldiers who had long since died of starvation or been shot, swayed silently underfoot. A swarm of mosquitoes danced over a dead body in the murky puddle in the clearing. A beetle in shining armour dragged a blade of grass across the path. A ring of scorched grass, an uprooted tree and a pile of broken boughs indicated that death had been at work, days previously, just yesterday, or even a matter of hours ago. A few sunbeams managed to break through the leaves and reach the ground. . . .
Men, together with their misplaced intelligence, play their tragic roles in theaters of war: to fight the other side to the death. The war rages on while, all around the very brave and noble and heroic combatants, millions of other species - lowly plants and animals - get on with their lives. Whether they are uprooted or remain rooted to the spot, the trees in the forest stand at attention in their precarious positions, awaiting their decimation. Yet the natural world is implacable in the face of material and human loss - the millions of human lives lost.

In The Stalin Front, wars are shown as machines that reduce humanity and nature into useless objects. Wars are shown for what in the first place they amount to: lost causes. The novel builds an argument for literature as a corrective to this dark history. It asks the same question that the purveyors of war never get to answer sufficiently. Why, after the curtain falls on these theaters of the past, do people today still want to engage in the same acts of destruction?

I read this book as part of the ongoing NYRB Reading Week (7-13 November 2010). This week of reading and reviewing great books is spearheaded by Honey at Coffespoons and Mrs. B at The Literary Stew. This is also part of the "NYRB Reading Plan" that I made back in January, in which I aimed to read at least 5 books published by NYRB this year. This is the 3rd NYRB book I read, after The Engagement by Georges Simenon and Poem Strip by Dino Buzzati.

Reading list: ALTA National Translation Award winners

The National Translation Award by the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) is awarded every year to an exceptional translation of a book published in U.S. or Canada during the previous year. Publishers are asked to nominate the works.

Works of fiction, poetry, drama, and creative non-fiction (except literary criticism and philosophy) are all considered for the award. The criteria for judging the books are the significance of both the original literary work and the translation and the success of the translation in recreating the original. The winning translator receives a prize money of $5,000.

2010 Alex Zucker, for his translation from Czech of All This Belongs to Me by Petra Hůlová (Northwestern University Press)

2009 Norman R. Shapiro, for the anthology French Women Poets of Nine Centuries: The Distaff and the Pen (Johns Hopkins University Press)

2008 Richard Wilbur, for The Theatre of Illusion by French dramatist Pierre Corneille (Mariner Books)

2007 Joel Agee, for his translation from German of The Selected Writings of Friedrich Dürrenmatt (University of Chicago Press)

2006 Ellen Elias-Bursac for her translation of David Albahri's Serbian novel Götz and Meyer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

2005 Vincent Katz for his translation of The Complete Elegies of Sextus Propertius from Latin (Princeton University Press)

2004 Aron Aji for his translation of The Garden of the Departed Cats by Turkish writer Bilge Karasu (New Directions)

2003 Jo Anne Engelbert for her translation from Spanish of Roberto Sosa's The Return of the River (Curbstone Press)

2002 E.H. and A.M. Blackmore for their translation from French of Selected Poems of Victor Hugo: A Bilingual Edition (University of Chicago Press)

2001 Danuta Borchardt for her translation from the Polish of Ferdydurke by Witold Gombrowicz (Yale University Press)

2000 Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Lin, for Chu T'ien-Wen's Notes of a Desolate Man (Columbia University Press)

1999 Peter Constantine, for Anton Chekhov's The Undiscovered Chekhov: Thirty-Eight New Stories (Seven Stories Press)

1998 Carolyn Tipton, for Rafael Alberti's To Painting (Northwestern University Press)

The University of Texas at Dallas

08 November 2010

Reading list: Best Spanish language novels of the past 25 years

In 2007, the Colombian magazine Semana ran a list of the "100 Best Spanish-Language Novels of the Past 25 Years." The list was a result of a poll of 81 writers, editors, and literary critics, among others.

El amor en los tiempos del cólera by Gabriel García Márquez got the most votes, followed by La fiesta del Chivo by Mario Vargas Llosa. Also in the top ten were two novels each by Roberto Bolaño and Javier Marías. The top 25 are listed below. English translations, if available, are indicated.


Top 25 of the 100 Best Novels in Spanish Language, 1981-2006

1. El amor en los tiempos del cólera by Gabriel García Márquez (Love in the Time of Cholera, trans. by Edith Grossman)

2. La fiesta del Chivo by Mario Vargas Llosa (The Feast of the Goat, trans. Edith Grossman)

3. Los detectives salvajes by Roberto Bolaño (The Savage Detectives, trans. Natasha Wimmer)

4. 2666 by Roberto Bolaño (2666, trans. Natasha Wimmer)

5. Noticias del imperio by Fernando del Paso (News from the Empire, trans. Alfonso González & Stella T. Clark)

6. Corazón tan blanco by Javier Marías (A Heart So White, trans. Margaret Jull Costa)

7. Bartleby y Compañía by Enrique Vila-Matas (Bartleby & Co., trans. Jonathan Dunne)

8. Santa Evita by Tomás Eloy Martínez (Santa Evita, trans. Helen Lane)

9. Mañana en la batalla piensa en mí by Javier Marías (Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me, trans. Margaret Jull Costa)

10. El desbarrancadero by Fernando Vallejo

11. La virgen de los sicarios by Fernando Vallejo (Our Lady of the Assassins, trans. Paul Hammond)

12. El entenado by Juan José Saer (The Witness, trans. Margaret Jull Costa)

13. Soldados de Salamina by Javier Cercas (Soldiers of Salamis, trans. Anne McLean)

14. Estrella distante by Roberto Bolaño (Distant Star, trans. Chris Andrews)

15. Paisaje después de la batalla by Juan Goytisolo (Landscapes After the Battle, trans. Helen Lane)

16. La ciudad de los prodigios by Eduardo Mendoza (The City of Marvels, trans. Bernard Molloy)

17. El jinete polaco by Antonio Muñoz Molina

18. El testigo by Juan Villoro

19. Salón de belleza by Mario Bellatin (Beauty Salon, trans. Kurt Hollander)

20. Cuando ya no importe by Juan Carlos Onetti (Past Caring, trans. Peter Bush)

21. La tejedora de coronas by Germán Espinosa

22. El paraíso en la otra esquina by Mario Vargas Llosa (The Way to Paradise, trans. Natasha Wimmer)

23. Cae la noche tropical by Manuel Puig (Tropical Night Falling, trans. Suzanne Jill Levine)

24. Doctor Pasavento by Enrique Vila-Matas

25. Herrumbrosas lanzas by Juan Benet

Complete list of 100 best novels:

07 November 2010

Reading list: 50 outstanding translations from the last 50 years

The Committee of the Translators Association, from the Society of Authors, compiled a list of best literary translations of the past 50 years in 2008, on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. According to the association, the list (in chronological order) was not meant to be definitive - only a sampler - and it was drafted to provoke thought and get people talking.


50 outstanding translations from the last 50 years

1. Raymond Queneau – Exercises in Style (Barbara Wright, 1958)

2. Primo Levi – If This is a Man (Stuart Woolf, 1959)

3. Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa – The Leopard (Archibald Colquhoun, 1961)

4. Günter Grass – The Tin Drum (Ralph Manheim, 1962)

5. Jorge Luis Borges – Labyrinths (Donald Yates, James Irby, 1962)

6. Leonardo Sciascia – Day of the Owl (Archibald Colquhoun, 1963)

7. Alexander Solzhenitsyn – One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Ralph Parker, 1963)

8. Yukio Mishima – Death in Midsummer (Seidensticker, Keene, Morris, Sargent, 1965)

9. Heinrich Böll – The Clown (Leila Vennewitz, 1965)

10. Octavio Paz – The Labyrinth of Solitude (Lysander Kemp, 1967)

11. Mikhail Bulgakov – The Master and Margarita (Michael Glenny, 1969)

12. Gabriel Garcia Marquez – One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gregory Rabassa, 1970)

13. Walter Benjamin – Illuminations (Harry Zohn, 1970)

14. Paul Celan – Poems (Michael Hamburger and Christopher Middleton, 1972)

15. Bertolt Brecht – Poems (John Willett, Ralph Manheim, Erich Fried, et al 1976)

16. Michel Foucault – Discipline and Punish (Alan Sheridan, 1977)

17. Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie - Montaillou (Barbara Bray, 1978)

18. Italo Calvino – If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller (William Weaver, 1981)

19. Roland Barthes – Camera Lucida (Richard Howard, 1981)

20. Christa Wolf – A Model Childhood (Ursule Molinaro, Hedwig Rappolt, 1982)

21. Umberto Eco – The Name of the Rose (William Weaver, 1983)

22. Mario Vargas Llosa – Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (Helen R. Lane, 1983)

23. Milan Kundera – The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Michael Henry Heim, 1984)

24. Marguerite Duras – The Lover (Barbara Bray, 1985)

25. Josef Skvorecky – The Engineer of Human Souls (Paul Wilson, 1985)

26. Per Olov Enquist – The March of the Musicians (Joan Tate, 1985)

27. Patrick Süskind – Perfume (John E. Woods, 1986)

28. Isabel Allende – The House of the Spirits (Magda Bogin, 1986)

29. Georges Perec – Life A User’s Manual (David Bellos, 1987)

30. Thomas Bernhard – Cutting Timber (Ewald Osers, 1988)

31. Czeslaw Milosz – Poems (Czeslaw Milosz, Robert Hass, 1988)

32. José Saramago – The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis (Giovanni Pontiero, 1992)

33. Marcel Proust – In Search of Lost Time (Terence Kilmartin, 1992)

34. Roberto Calasso – The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony (Tim Parks, 1993)

35. Naguib Mahfouz – The Cairo Trilogy (William M. Hutchins, Lorne M. Kenny, Olive E. Kenny, Angele Botros Samaan, 1991-3)

36. Laura Esquivel – Like Water for Chocolate (Carol Christensen and Thomas Christensen, 1993)

37. Bao Ninh – The Sorrow of War (Frank Palmos, Phan Thanh Hao, 1994)

38. Victor Klemperer – I Shall Bear Witness (Martin Chalmers, 1998)

39. Beowulf (Seamus Heaney, 1999)

40. Josef Brodsky – Collected Poems (Anthony Hecht et al, 2000)

41. Xingjian Gao – Soul Mountain (Mabel Lee, 2001)

42. Tahar Ben Jelloun – This Blinding Absence of Light (Linda Coverdale, 2002)

43. W.G. Sebald – Austerlitz (Anthea Bell, 2002)

44. Orhan Pamuk – Snow (Maureen Freely, 2004)

45. Amos Oz – A Tale of Love and Darkness (Nicholas de Lange, 2004)

46. Per Petterson – Out Stealing Horses (Ann Born, 2005)

47. Irène Némirovsky – Suite Française (Sandra Smith, 2006)

48. Vassily Grossman – Life and Fate (Robert Chandler, 2006)

49. Alaa Al Aswany – The Yacoubian Building (Humphrey Davies, 2007)

50. Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace (Richard Pevear, Larissa Volokhonsky, 2007)

Source: http://www.societyofauthors.org/50-outstanding-translations

06 November 2010

Reading list: Winners of Man Asian Literary Prize

The Man Asian Literary Prize is awarded to the year's best novel, either in English or translated into English, by an Asian writer. It was founded in 2007 and covers 27 countries and special administrative regions in Asia.

The winner is chosen by a panel of judges. Previously, entries come from submitted manuscripts (unpublished novels), but a new format was announced this year wherein the eligible entries will only be those books published in the previous calendar year.

The prize is sponsored by Man Group plc. – the same sponsor for the Man Booker Prize, the Man Booker International Prize, and The Lost Man Booker Prize.

Prize: The author gets USD 30,000 while the translator (if any) gets USD 5,000.

Official site: http://www.manasianliteraryprize.org/

Winners of Man Asian Literary Prize

2009 The Boat to Redemption Su Tong, translated by Howard Goldblatt

2008 Ilustrado Miguel Syjuco

2007 Wolf Totem Jiang Rong, translated by Howard Goldblatt

Reading list: Winners of French-American Foundation Translation Prizes

The annual Translation Prizes (for fiction and nonfiction) are given by the French-American Foundation, with the support of the Florence Gould Foundation, for the best translation from French. It started in 1986.

The latest winner in fiction category is John Cullen for Philippe Claudel's Brodeck. (Not sure who won in the non-fiction category.)


Winners of the Florence Gould Foundation and the French-American Foundation Translation Prizes

2009 • John Cullen for Brodeck by Philippe Claudel (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday)

2008 • Jody Gladding & Elizabeth Deshays for their translation of Small Lives by Pierre Michon (Archipelago Books) • Matthew Cobb & Malcolm DeBevoise for their translation of Life Explained by Michel Morange (Yale University Press/Odile Jacob).

2007 • Linda Coverdale for her translation of Ravel by Jean Echenoz (The New Press) • Linda Asher for her translation of The Curtain by Milan Kundera (HarperCollins)

2006 • Sandra Smith for her translation of Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky (Alred A. Knopf Publishers) • Bruce Fink for his translation of Écrits by Jaques Lacan (Norton)

2005 • Daniel Weissbort for his translation of Missing Person by Patrick Modiano (David Godine) • Sharon Bowman for her translation of The American Enemy: the History of French Anti-Americanism by Philippe Roger (University of Chicago Press)

2004 • Helen Marx for her translation of Silbermann by Jacques de Lacretelle (Helen Marx Books) • Arthur Goldhammer for his translation of Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville (The Library of America)

2003 • Lydia Davis for her translation Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust (Viking Press) • Janet Lloyd for her translation The Writing of Orpheus by Marcel Detienne (Johns Hopkins University Press)

2002 • Jeff Fort for his translation of Aminadab by Maurice Blanchot (University of Nebraska Press) • James Hogarth for his translation of The Toilers of the Sea by Victor Hugo (Modern Library) • Anthony Roberts for his translation of Jihad by Gilles Kepel (Harvard University Press)

2001 • Jordan Stump for his translation of The Jardin des Plantes by Claude Simon (Northwestern University Press)

2000 • Linda Asher for her translation of The Case of Dr. Sachs by Martin Winckler (Seven Stories Press)

1999 • Richard Howard for his translation of The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal (Random House)

1998 • Madeleine Velguth for her translation of Children of Clay by Raymond Queneau (Sun & Moon Press)

1997 • Linda Coverdale for her translation of Literature or Life by Jorge Semprun (Viking Penguin) • Barbara Wright for her translation of Here by Nathalie Sarraute (George Braziller)

1996 • Arthur Goldhammer for her translation of Realms of Memory: The Construction of the French Past, vol. 1 by Pierre Nora (Columbia University Press)

1994 • Joachim Neugroschel for his translation of With Downcast Eyes by Tahar Ben Jelloun (Little Brown & Co.)

1993 • Nina Rootes for her translation of Sky Memoirs by Blaise Cendrars (Paragon House)

1992 • Lydia Davis for her translation of Rules of the Game I: Scratches by Michel Leiris (Paragon House)

1991 • Burton Raffel for his translation of Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais (Norton)

1990 • Arthur Goldhammer for his translation of A Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution by François Furet and Mona Ozouf (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press)

1989 • Franklin Philip for his translation of The Statue Within by François Jacob (Basic Books)

1988 • David Bellos for his translation of Life, a User's Manual by Georges Perec (David Godine Publishers)

1987 • Richard Howard for his translation of William Marshal, the Flowering of Chivalry by Georges Duby (Pantheon Books)

1986 • Barbara Bray for her translation of The Writing of Stones by Roger Callois (University of Virginia Press)

Past winners
2009 finalists

05 November 2010

Reading list: Winners of Helen and Kurt Wolff Tanslator's Prize

This is an annual prize for the best German novel translated into English and published in the US. The winning translator receives a prize of US $ 10,000 and a stay at the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin (LCB). The prize, set up in 1996, is administered by the Goethe-Institut Chicago. The funding comes from the German government.

Official site: http://www.goethe.de/ins/us/chi/wis/uef/wol/enindex.htm


Winners of the Wolff Prize

2010 Ross Benjamin, for his translation of Michael Maar’s Speak, Nabokov, (Verso)

2009 John Hargraves, for Michael Krüger’s The Executor – A Comedy of Letters (Harcourt)

2008 David Dollenmayer, for Moses Rosenkranz’s Childhood. An Autobiographical Fragment (Syracuse University Press)

2007 Peter Constantine, for Benjamin Lebert’s novel The Bird is a Raven (Alfred Knopf)

2006 Susan Bernofsky, for Jenny Erpenbeck’s The Old Child & Other Stories (New Directions)

2005 Michael Henry Heim, for Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice (Ecco/HarperCollins)

2004 Breon Mitchell, for Uwe Timm’s novel Morenga (New Directions)

2003 Margot Bettauer Dembo, for Judith Hermann’s Summerhouse, later (Harper Perennial)

2002 Anthea Bell, for W.G. Sebald’s novel Austerlitz (Random House)

2001 Krishna Winston, for Günther Grass’s novel Too Far Afield (Harcourt)

2000 Michael Hofmann, for Joseph Roth’s novel Rebellion (St. Martin's Press)

1999 Joel Agee, for Heinrich von Kleist’s play Penthesilea (Michael di Capua Books / Harper Collins Publishers)

1998 John Brownjohn, for Thomas Brussig’s Heroes Like Us (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) and Marcel Beyer's The Karnau Tapes (Harcourt Brace & Company)

1997 Leila Vennewitz, for Jurek Becker’s Jacob the Liar (Arcade Publishing)

1996 John E. Woods, for Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain (Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.) and Arno Schmidt's Nobodaddy's Children (Dalkey Archive Press)

04 November 2010

Reading diary: October 2010

Twelve books read in October! This makes the past month the most productive of my reading this year.

One other highlight of October is my breezing through the rest of César Aira's fiction in translation. The completist in me is more than satisfied with this reading marathon. No, not marathon. This month is like a leisure walk with 7 novels, 2 poetry collections, 2 nonfiction, and 1 brilliant short story collection.

57. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

The book's rhythm is perfect, I think. It's like hearing the drums from time to time. Achebe developed a straightforward diction that lends gravity to his themes. The incorporation of oral storytelling and ancient myths makes the story universal, especially for its themes of colonialism and social transformation.

What I noticed in the choice of words is the almost complete lack of adverbs. In exceptional cases when adverbs do appear, they appear in sentences that anticipate something ominous. The adjectives are the only modifiers, and they always come singly. The use of two consecutive adjectives is very rare. This limitation may be similar to the ones used by OuLiPo writers to achieve poetry. The result of these limitations is a no-frills, plainspoken voice, very rooted to the land and perhaps signifies the stability, purity, wholeness of culture. That is why the advent of changes in social norms, religion, and form of government at the end of the book represents an apocalyptic transformation for the African tribe, the "second coming." As the white colonizers try to impose their influence on the original settlers of the land, the Nigerians lose their original gods, their beliefs and stories, their very identities. Against the wishes of the elders and the vanguards of customs like Okonkwo, the protagonist, they are 'modified.'

I read this book as part of a group read in one of my Shelfari groups.

58. The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt

The Last Samurai (no, not the) centers on the adventures of a young prodigy brought up by a single mother. It recounts his search for his father, his mother's obsession with Kurosawa's film Seven Samurai, and some very amusing mishaps. For a po-mo novel with lots of linguistic tricks, it's really funny. The set-piece stories soar. When Ludo, the little protagonist, starts to gamble at the end, we learn that what makes a true samurai is neither physical nor mental prowess. It's something more that could ultimately define his destiny.

59. The Literary Conference by César Aira, trans. Katherine Silver

A translator named César is bent on world domination. He enacts the role of Mad Scientist in comic books and attempts to clone the Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes. It's a sci-fi romp whose cinematic climax will give Hollywood movies a run for their money.

60. How I Became a Nun by César Aira, trans. Chris Andrews

A little girl named César Aira was poisoned by contaminated strawberry ice cream. Her/his father took revenge on the ice cream vendor by dipping his head in the tub of poisoned ice cream. Only a literary monk could have written How I Became a Nun. The book is ultimately a missal of wicked intents. It's a childish book, a false memoir, a feat of child psychology, a nightmare come true. Readers get no chance to throw fits of tantrums.

61. Dance Dance Dance by Murakami Haruki, trans. Alfred Birnbaum

MakiMurakami H. as a self-help/inspirational writer, sharing "life lessons." Who would think of it?

62. Poems of Akhmatova by Anna Akhmatova, trans. Stanley Kunitz and Max Hayward

This is a bilingual edition of selected poems arranged chronologically, containing her celebrated work "Requiem" and extracts from "Poem Without a Hero." Akhmatova's witness is one of profound sensitivity to human suffering and cruelty. One of the virtues of her poetry is personal pride, the positive aspect of it, the strength to resist passively and to not succumb to people and institutions in power.

63. Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts by Wisława Szymborska, trans. Magnus J. Krynski and Robert A. Maguire

Szymborska is my favorite poet. Her style and Akhmatova's are comparable to some extent but I find Szymborska's poems to be less weighed down by her themes. I'm not too enamored by the translations but the power of the lines still emanate from their playfulness and wit. Not that I understand Polish, but the versions in View With a Grain of Sand (translated Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh) sound better to me especially with the symmetric quality of the lines. However, this collection is important for being the first substantial harvest of Szymborska in English translation, and for its very good thematic introduction.

Here's one of my favorite poems in the book:

by Wisława Szymborska

Woman, what's your name?—I don't know.
When were you born, where do you come from?—I don't know.
Why did you dig a hole in the ground?—I don't know.
How long have you been hiding here?—I don't know.
Why did you bite the hand of friendship?—I don't know.
Don't you know we will do you no harm?—I don't know.
Whose side are you on?—I don't know.
There's a war on, you must choose.—I don't know.
Does your village still exist?—I don't know.
Are these your children?—Yes.

– Translated from the Polish by Magnus J. Krynski and Robert A. Maguire

64. The Jaguar by João Guimarães Rosa, trans. David Treece

Short stories by an unforgivably under-read and under-translated Brazilian writer. João Guimarães Rosa is probably the long lost great prose stylist (in any language), who is now rediscovered thanks to translator David Treece. The eight stories are tightly selected and survey a range of Guimarães Rosa's stories of life journeys, from setting out to arriving, corresponding to the three parts of the collection: "Setting Out," "Lost Souls," "Final Farewells." As he wrote in his celebrated book, The Devil to Pay in the Backlands, "The truth is not in the setting out nor in the arriving: it comes to us in the middle of the journey." The middle of the journey here ("Lost Souls"), and the heart of the book, contains the title story. "The Jaguar" is a tour de force of descent into madness and captures the irony of existence, civilization and barbarity existing side by side in a human being. (I recently read a different translation of this long story, by Giovanni Pontiero, noted translator of José Saramago and Clarice Lispector. The readings of this story in two different registers makes for two distinctive experiences. I have to say though that Treece's version sounds more mad to me, and that's a compliment.)

The "Setting Out" part contains three stories told from the point of view of children. The word inventions in these stories are exhilarating for their fresh perspectives on how children begin to view the world through their observant eyes. The final section ("Final Farewells") contains another long story, "In the Name of the Grandfather" which is translated here for the first time, and two more which are widely anthologized, "The Third Bank of the River" and "Soroco, His Mother, His Daughter." The long story is yet another feat of word invention and narrative stream of consciousness. In Treece's versions, Rosa's modern language is resurrected in beautiful living idioms, alive through interpretation. It unfolds, is lived and experienced.

65. The Fixer by Joe Sacco

Nonfiction graphic about a recent war. There are many things to commend in this graphic: the complex character of "the fixer," the strong sense of place, and the subject matter. This humanist book achieves artistry through its "objective" imagining and imaging of war crimes that are indelibly registered on sheets of paper and, it is to be continually hoped, in human memory.

66. The Hare by César Aira, trans. Nick Caistor

About an English naturalist who entered Mapuche Indian territory in Argentina to search for an elusive animal, the Legibrerian Hare. The first of Aira's books to appear in English, whose original Spanish was published fairly early in Aira's career. It is also the longest, at a safe novel length. The more words expended should make it the weakest of the translated books, but no! This is Aira in the same enfant terrible form, if not less terrible. With its discourse on continuity, continuum, and simultaneity, the novel is key to understanding the same delightful ridiculousness in what came after (books #59 and 60 above).

This book is pure happiness. I posted my notes and speculations here.

67. Managing Online Forums by Patrick O'Keefe

Didn't read this book from cover to cover. But I read what I needed to read. Even if one is using a different online discussion site/platform from the one in the book, one can always apply the general guidelines prescribed. Useful, yes.

68. Exploits and Opinions of Doctor Faustroll, Pataphysician by Alfred Jarry, trans. Simon Watson Taylor

Alfred Jarry started the movement called 'pataphysics which is a sort of extension of science, metaphysics, and religion. The principles of 'pataphysics are conspicuously given in this experimental book. The language is beautiful, always courting poetry. But it needs a ton of annotations to be understood. Well, maybe not a ton, but surely ample footnotes. The uninitiated (like YT) will either appreciate the surreal prose poems which soar like kites, or blink helpless at the surreal passages zooming over one's head like rockets. Let's just say it deserves its cult status for being obscure.

Ha ha.*


*Ha ha.

Reading list: Winners of Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize

Since 1999, the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize is awarded for translations into English of works from any living European language. It honors the craft of translation and recognises its cultural importance. The winner is selected by a panel made up of various members of the language and literature faculty of Oxford University and an assessor from another university.

Site: http://www.st-annes.ox.ac.uk/about/oxford-weidenfeld-translation-prize.html

Winners of the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize

2011 Margaret Jull Costa for her translation of The Elephant's Journey by José Saramago (Harvill Secker)

2010 Jamie McKendrick, for The Embrace by Valerio Magrelli (Faber and Faber)

2009 Anthea Bell, for Sasa Stanisic's How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone (Weidenfeld and Nicolson)

2008 Margaret Jull Costa, for Eça de Queiroz's The Maias (Dedalus)

2007 Michael Hofmann, for Durs Grünbein's Ashes for Breakfast: Selected Poems (Faber)

2006 Len Rix, for Magda Szabo's The Door (Harvill Secker)

2005 Denis Jackson, for Theodor Storm's Paul the Puppeteer (Angel Books)

2004 Michael Hofmann, for Ernst Junger's Storm of Steel (Penguin)

2003 Ciaran Carson, for Dante Alighieri's Inferno (Granta)

2002 Patrick Thursfield and Katalin Banffy-Jelen, for Miklos Banffy's They Were Divided (Arcadia)

2001 Edwin Morgan, for Phaedra by Jean Racine (Carcanet) into Scots.

2000 Margaret Jull Costa, for Jose Saramago's All the Names (Harvill)

1999 Jonathan Galassi, for Eugenio Montale's Collected Poems (Carcanet)

03 November 2010

Reading list: Commonwealth Writers' Prize winners

According to the wiki, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize is organized and funded by the Commonwealth Foundation, an intergovernmental organization working in 53 countries of the Commonwealth of Nations. It covers the four Commonwealth regions of: (1) Africa, (2) Europe and South Asia, (3) the Caribbean and Canada, and (4) South East Asia and the South Pacific.

Selection process and prizes

In each Commonwealth region, the books are assessed by a regional panel of judges. There are two winners: one for the Best Book and one for the Best First Book, each winner awarded with £1,000.

A pan-Commonwealth panel will then select the overall winners from the eight regional winners' books. The author of the overall Best Book wins £10,000 while the winner of overall Best First Book gets £5,000. The list below is only for the winners of the overall Best Book.

Winners of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Best Book)

2010 Solo Rana Dasgupta

2009 The Slap Christos Tsiolkas

2008 The Book of Negroes Lawrence Hill

2007 Mister Pip Lloyd Jones

2006 The Secret River Kate Grenville

2005 Small Island Andrea Levy

2004 A Distant Shore Caryl Phillips

2003 The Polished Hoe Austin Clarke

2002 Gould's Book of Fish Richard Flanagan

2001 True History of the Kelly Gang Peter Carey

2000 Disgrace J. M. Coetzee

1999 Eucalyptus Murray Bail

1998 Jack Maggs Peter Carey

1997 Salt Earl Lovelace

1996 A Fine Balance Rohinton Mistry

1995 Captain Corelli's Mandolin Louis de Bernières

1994 A Suitable Boy Vikram Seth

1993 The Ancestor Game Alex Miller

1992 Such a Long Journey Rohinton Mistry

1991 The Great World David Malouf

1990 Solomon Gursky Was Here Mordecai Richler

1989 The Carpathians Janet Frame

1988 Heroes Festus Iyayi

1987 Summer Lightning Olive Senior

02 November 2010

Reading list: International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award winners

The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is open to novels written in any language, provided they have been translated into English. Books longlisted for the award are nominated by libraries from around the world. The award is an initiative of Dublin City Council and is administered by Dublin City Public Libraries.

While not as popular as the Man Booker and Pulitzer Prizes, the IMPAC Dublin has international coverage and the winning books are as diverse as a list can be.

The 2010 IMPAC goes to the Dutch novel The Twin. Gerbrand Bakker (writer) and David Colmer (translator) will share the prize of 100,000 Euro (approx. 123,782.55 USD), "the world's richest literary prize for a single novel."

2011 Let the Great World Spin Colum McCann

2010 The Twin Gerbrand Bakker, translated from the Dutch by David Colmer

2009 Man Gone Down Michael Thomas

2008 De Niro's Game Rawi Hage

2007 Out Stealing Horses Per Petterson, translated from Norwegian by Anne Born

2006 The Master Colm Tóibín

2005 The Known World Edward P. Jones

2004 This Blinding Absence of Light Tahar Ben Jelloun, translated from the French by Linda Coverdale

2003 My Name is Red Orhan Pamuk, translated from the Turkish by Erdag M. Göknar

2002 Atomised (also published as The Elementary Particles) Michel Houellebecq, translated from the French by Frank Wynne

2001 No Great Mischief Alistair MacLeod

2000 Wide Open Nicola Barker

1999 Ingenious Pain Andrew Miller

1998 The Land of Green Plums Herta Müller, translated from the German by Michael Hofmann

1997 A Heart So White Javier Marias, translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa

1996 Remembering Babylon David Malouf


01 November 2010

Reading list: Independent Foreign Fiction Prize winners

The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was started by the British newspaper The Independent. Entries must be published in English translation in the United Kingdom in the previous year and the author must be alive at the time that the translation is published. The prize is divided between the winning author and the translator.

Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk and translator Victoria Holbrook were the inaugural winners of the prize twenty years ago while Philippe Claudel and John Cullen won it this year for Brodeck's Report. Below is the complete set of winners.

2010 Brodeck's Report by Philippe Claudel, translated by John Cullen (French)

2009 The Armies by Evelio Rosero, translated by Anne McLean (Spanish)

2008 Omega Minor by Paul Verhaeghen, translated by Paul Verhaeghen (Dutch)

2007 The Book of Chameleons by José Eduardo Agualusa, translated by Daniel Hahn (Portuguese)

2006 Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson, translated by Anne Born (Norwegian)

2005 Windows on the World by Frédéric Beigbeder, translated by Frank Wynne (French)

2004 Soldiers of Salamis by Javier Cercas, translated by Anne McLean (Spanish)

2003 The Visit of the Royal Physician by Per Olov Enquist, translated by Tiina Nunnally (Swedish)

2002 Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald, translated by Anthea Bell (German)

1996-2001 Prize held in abeyance

1995 The Film Explainer by Gert Hofmann, translated by Michael Hofmann (German)

1994 The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh, translated by Phanh Thanh Hao (Vietnamese)

1993 The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis by José Saramago, translated by Giovanni Pontiero (Portuguese)

1992 The Death of Napoleon by Simon Leys, translated by Patricia Clancy (French)

1991 Immortality by Milan Kundera, translated by Peter Kussi (Czech)

1990 The White Castle by Orhan Pamuk, translated by Victoria Holbrook (Turkish)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_Foreign_Fiction_Prize

2010 shortlist