Best Translated Book awards longlist revealed

David Grossman, Per Petterson and Amelie Nothomb are the major names leading the fiction longlist for this year’s Best Translated Book awards, run from the University of Rochester in New York.

Award co-founder Chad Post said the longlist, which takes in authors from 19 countries writing in 12 languages, is “a testament to the number of high-quality works in translation that are making their way to American readers, thanks to a number of talented translators and exciting publishing houses”.

However, with notable exceptions – including Touch by Adania Shibli, translated from Arabic, and Marlene van Niekerk’s Agaat, from Afrikaans – the list is dominated by books first written in European languages. Novelist Orhan Pamuk complained at this week’s Jaipur Literary Festival that writers in languages other than English were being marginalised, with festival director William Dalrymple observing that it was “particularly hard to get American publishing houses to take on translations”, especially those written outside the major European languages.

Almost all the books on the BTB list have come from small independent houses, such as Archipelago Books, Small Beer, New Directions, Bitter Lemon Press, and Graywolf.