The Best Translated Book Award 2012 Longlist

Today, Three Percent released the longlist for 2012’s Best Translated Book Award (BTBA), and judging from the list, I fell behind in my international reading last year. You can check out the press release with more information about the selection process on the Three Percent blog here, but I’ve pasted the longlist below.

The 2012 BTBA Fiction Longlist (in alphabetical order by author):

Leeches by David Albahari
Translated from the Serbian by Ellen Elias-Bursać
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

My Two Worlds by Sergio Chejfec
Translated from the Spanish by Margaret B. Carson
(Open Letter)

Demolishing Nisard by Eric Chevillard
Translated from the French by Jordan Stump
(Dalkey Archive Press)

Private Property by Paule Constant
Translated from the French by Margot Miller and France Grenaudier-Klijn
(University of Nebraska Press)

Lightning by Jean Echenoz
Translated from the French by Linda Coverdale
(New Press)

Zone by Mathias Énard
Translated from the French by Charlotte Mandell
(Open Letter)

Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion? by Johan Harstad
Translated from the Norwegian by Deborah Dawkin
(Seven Stories)

Upstaged by Jacques Jouet
Translated from the French by Leland de la Durantaye
(Dalkey Archive Press)

Fiasco by Imre Kertész
Translated from the Hungarian by Tim Wilkinson
(Melville House)

Montecore by Jonas Hassen Khemiri
Translated from the Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles
(Knopf)

Kornél Esti by Dezső Kosztolányi
Translated from the Hungarian by Bernard Adams
(New Directions)

I Am a Japanese Writer by Dany Laferrière
Translated from the French by David Homel
(Douglas & MacIntyre)

Suicide by Edouard Levé
Translated from the French by Jan Steyn
(Dalkey Archive Press)

New Finnish Grammar by Diego Marani
Translated from the Italian by Judith Landry
(Dedalus)

Purgatory by Tomás Eloy Martínez
Translated from the Spanish by Frank Wynne
(Bloomsbury)

Stone Upon Stone by Wiesław Myśliwski
Translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston
(Archipelago Books)

Scenes from Village Life by Amos Oz
Translated from the Hebrew by Nicholas de Lange
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

The Shadow-Boxing Woman by Inka Parei
Translated from the German by Katy Derbyshire
(Seagull Books)

Funeral for a Dog by Thomas Pletzinger
Translated from the German by Ross Benjamin
(W.W. Norton)

Scars by Juan José Saer
Translated from the Spanish by Steve Dolph
(Open Letter)

Kafka’s Leopards by Moacyr Scliar
Translated from the Portuguese by Thomas O. Beebee
(Texas Tech University Press)

Seven Years by Peter Stamm
Translated from the German by Michael Hofmann
(Other Press)

The Truth about Marie by Jean-Philippe Toussaint
Translated from the French by Matthew B. Smith
(Dalkey Archive Press)

In Red by Magdalena Tulli
Translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston
(Archipelago Books)

Never Any End to Paris by Enrique Vila-Matas
Translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean
(New Directions)

I’ve read David Albahari before (I was a big fan of his Words Are Something Else in college), I’ve been meaning to read a different title (Unformed Landscape) of Peter Stamm’s  for a few years, and I am aware of several other authors on the list. But the only one I’ve actually read is Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion?, which thankfully, I did really love. (Never has there been a book that has integrated the Cardigans’ Grand Turismo so well). But otherwise, I’ve got nothing on these titles or authors. So it’s time to do some research, eh?

Prior to posting the longlist, Chad Post asked readers of the blog to contribute titles that they were either guessing would be included, or just hoping to see on the list. I actually forgot that Buzz Aldrin was published in the right time frame to qualify (December 1, 2010 – December 31, 2011) so it wasn’t in my short list. Just for kicks, here are some titles–in no particular order–I would have liked to see included (obviously I skew a little more northerly than the judges….):

  • The Greenhouse by Audur Ava Olafsdottir, Translated from the Icelandic by Brian FitzGibbon
  • The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson, Translated from the Swedish by Michael Meyer (I haven’t reviewed The Long Ships, so no link above, but Nick Pinkerton had a good one on The L Magazine website here, and Michael Chabon–who wrote the kinda lame, but certainly enthusiastic, introduction–wrote a piece about it for The Paris Review here.)
  • Fair Playby Tove Jansson, Translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal (Teal won last year, so this would have been a long shot, but it’s such a good book! My favorite Jansson so far.)
  • Karaoke Culture by Dubraka Ugresic, Translated from the Croatian by David Williams

In Honor of Stan and Jan: My Top Five Berenstain Bear Books

Young Stan and Jan via pbase.com

Sad news today for those of us who grew up learning a whole lot about life from the Berenstain Bears: Jan Berenstain has died, after suffering a stroke at the age of 88. Her husband and writing/illustrating partner, Stan, died (of complications from lymphoma)  in 2005.

While this is sad news, of course, the couple certainly seemed to have a wonderful life together, doing what they loved. From the CBS News piece linked to above:

Stan and Jan Berenstain, both Philadelphia natives, were 18 when they met on their first day at art school in 1941.

They married in 1946, after Stan Berenstain returned home from serving as a medical illustrator at a stateside Army hospital during World War II. During that time, Jan Berenstain worked as a draftsman for the Army Corps of Engineers and as a riveter building Navy seaplanes.

Before their family of bear books was born, the young couple had already built a successful career in periodicals. A cartoon series they produced called “All in the Family” ran in McCall’s and Good Housekeeping magazines for 35 years, and their art appeared in magazines including Collier’s and The Saturday Evening Post.

Mike Berenstain said his mother worked daily at her home studio in an idyllic part of Bucks County, north of Philadelphia, which served as inspiration for the books’ setting. He said he will continue writing and illustrating future Berenstain books.

In honor of Jan and Stan, here’s a quick list of my top five favorite Berenstain Bear books, in no particular order:


Please post your own favorites! If you’re having trouble remembering the titles, Wikipedia has a comprehensive list here, along with some summaries.

Another Day, Another Contest: Jen Campbell’s “Weird Chat-Up Lines”

Hugging Book design by Thomas Keeley (found on Blurberati Blog)

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! (Or, if you will: Happy My Little Sister’s Birthday Day, everyone! Let’s hear it for turning 11!)

Jen Campbell over at This is Not the Six Word Novel and author of the just-about-published Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops is running a contest today. Says Ms. Campbell, “I want to hear the weirdest/worst chat up lines you’ve ever heard.” Two lucky winners will receive a signed copy (each) of  her forthcoming book. (Based on some of the ‘weird things’ that she’s posted about–which I re-posted here–this book is going to be hilarious. And sad. But in a funny way, you know?)

Honestly, I’ve heard a lot of weird ‘chat-up’ lines in my day (I have one of those faces that seems to encourage strange people and stranger conversation), but since she’s looking for best literary-themed chat-up lines as well, I thought I’d submit one of my more memorable reading-in-public encounters in the last few years. My submission is below; you can enter yours via Twitter, Facebook, or the in the post’s comment section, here.

“Even though it tends to bring out the weirdos, I still often like to take a book to a bar with me and enjoy a beer while reading. On one such occasion, I sat down with a copy of Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives. A man sat down next to me and asked, “What’s your book about?” and silly me, I thought he was actually curious. So I tell him that it’s about poets in Mexico and launch into a long and complex description of what is, after all, a long and complex book. Several minutes in, he interrupts me to tell me that the book sounds dumb because “there are no good Mexican poets.” He then offered to buy me a beer. I left.”

Michael Erard’s Language Identification Contest

Journalist Michael Erard is circulating the video above as part of the promotion for his recently-published book Babel No More: The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners. As reported by Maryann Yin on GalleyCat,

Erard assembled a group of friends who agreed to videotape themselves reading from his book. He collected these clips into the video embedded above–if you can list all the languages in the video, you could win a free book.

Here are more details about the contest: “Send an email message with 1) the name of each language and 2) in the order in which they appear to info@babelnomore.com, and I’ll put your name in a drawing for a signed copy of Babel No More.” A deadline has been set for February 23rd.

Erard is a contributing writer for Design Observer and a blogger for Psychology Today.

I think I was able to identify three–maybe four–languages the first time around. There were a few others that I think I recognized by language groups (Slavic, Scandinavian, etc.) but couldn’t identify specifically. I sure hope Erard publishes the answers after the contest is over.