Dispatches from the BTBA

As one of the judges for the Best Translated Book Award this year, I’ve been sharing my thoughts on a few of the books under consideration for the prize with the readers of the fabulous website Three Percent. Here’s a sample:


On Yoel Hoffmann’s Moods,
translated by Peter Cole for New Directions

“The specter of stories untold is especially pronounced in Hoffmann’s lists, each element of which seems to contain an entire universe, not unlike Hemingway’s famous six-word novel. ‘Here are some other things that break the heart,’ Hoffmann declares: ‘An old door. A glass left out in the yard. A woman’s foot squeezed into shoes, so her toes become twisted.’ Each image, vivid and universal in its understatement, is heavy with the moments that precede it and invites us to imagine those that follow.”


SignsOn Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World,
translated by Lisa Dillman for And Other Stories:

“Though the exceedingly timely and nonetheless timeless Signs Preceding the End of the World does not hold back in evoking the violence and exploitation that haunts the passage across the US-Mexico border, Herrera was both sage and skilled enough to write a book that occupies this space in a way that, in its dizzying array of registers and allusions, refuses to be confined by the socio-political reality it depicts.”


Tram83On Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s Tram 83,
translated by Roland Glasser for Deep Vellum:

“Rejecting conservative formal and conceptual models—the African literature of “squalor, poverty, syphilis, and violence” bemoaned by Malingeau—Tram 83 is at once a celebration and a lament, a Bildungsroman sans Bildung, a masterful exercise in style, and a valuable contribution to the conversation about what literature in translation is and can be.”