Writing Program associate professor Susan Bernofsky’s translation of Yoko Tawada’s novel Memoirs of a Polar Bear has been longlisted for the Best Translated Book Award. The award, now in its 10th year, is given out by Three Percent, an online magazine about translation and international literature operated by the University of Rochester, and is awarded to one translated work of fiction and one translated work of poetry. It carries a monetary prize of $5,000.
A panel of 14 judges selected the 35 books on the longlist from a pool of more than 600 titles. The panel “considered works written by authors from 87 countries in 54 different languages, and published in English by 179 distinct presses,” according to The Millions, which announced the longlist.
Bernofsky’s English translation of Memoirs of a Polar Bear, which the Japanese-born Tawada wrote in German, has received much attention since it was published in November 2016. The Economist praised Bernofksy for “nimbly translat[ing]” Tawada’s “deadpan wit and disorienting mischief.” The National celebrated her “beautiful translation” of the book’s “most surreal and fantastical elements.”
Bernofsky, who directs Literary Translation at Columbia, has translated works by Robert Walser and Franz Kakfa, among others. In 2014, she was named a Guggenheim Fellow, and has received awards and fellowships from the PEN Translation Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The finalists for the Best Translated Book Award will be announced on April 18.