2011 Best Translated Book Awards Longlist (and yet another tiny little rant)

The folks over at Three Percent, the fabulous resource for international literature based at the University of Rochester in the US, have just released the longlist for the 2011 Best Translated Book Awards. There are 25 books, from 19 countries, written in 12 languages, and I’me excited to see several Spanish-language authors included (translator name in brackets): César Aira’s The Literary Conference (Katherine Silver), Mario Benedetti’s The Rest is Jungle and Other Stories (Harry Morales), Javier Marías’s Bad Nature, or, with Elvis in Mexico (Esther Allen), Martín Solares’s The Black Minutes (Aura Estrada / John Pluecker), and Emilio Lascano Tegui’s On Elegance While Sleeping (Idra Novey). You can find links to all of the books in the original announcement at Three Percent.

It’s an interesting longlist, with lots of novels and novelists I don’t know at all, and I’m looking forward to seeing which ones make the shortlist of ten, which is due to be announced on March 24th. BUT (there is always a but, isn’t there? I will hide it beneath the lines for those of you whose parades could do without the rain today…)

<rant>At risk of continuing to beat that poor deceased equine, I will just note in passing that while on the shortlist overall, the ratio is 21 male to 6 female authors, every single one of the Spanish-language authors is male. Is it boring and nitpicky of me still to be ever so slightly annoyed by that? I don’t think this has anything to do with the prize – far from it, in fact. Prize committees and longlisters, and even translators and publishers, can only work with what’s out there in the public eye. As I’ve noted here before, there’s a real issue with the public face of Spanish-language literature and criticism, and the economies of prestige in operation around them,  which are still, after all the time and words and blood and outrage, unmistakably one-dimensional. (/rant)

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