Columbia Faculty and Alumni Shortlisted for National Translation Awards
The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) recently announced the shortlist for their translation awards, which includes members of Columbia’s Writing Faculty and Alumni. Associate Professor Jeremy Tiang and alumna Mariam Rahmani ’21 are shortlisted for the National Translation Award in Prose, and Assistant Professor Megan McDowell is shortlisted for the Spain-USA Foundation Translation Award. Alumnus Aaron Poochigian ’16 was also previously on the longlist for the National Translation Award in Poetry.
The National Translation Award is the only national award for translated fiction, poetry, and literary nonfiction that includes a rigorous examination of both the source text and its relation to the finished English work. This is the twenty-fourth year for the NTA, which awards a $2,500 cash prize to each of its winners. It is the inaugural year for the Spain-USA Foundation Translation Award, which recognizes translations into English of literary prose works written originally by authors of Spanish (Spain) nationality, and will present its winner with a $5,000 cash prize.
Winner of the Mao Dun Literature Prize—one of the most prestigious literature prizes in China—The Wedding Party, by Liu Xinwu and translated from the Mandarin by Tiang, uses one raucous day to explore the many relationships and competing narratives entangling a unique, tight-knit community in Beijing. According to the Asian Review of Books, “This translation was worth the wait.” Tiang has previously won the PEN Translates award from English Pen for their translation of Cocoon by Zhang Yueran, and was recently named runner-up of the 2021 Warwick Prize for Women in Translation for his translation of Strange Beasts of China by Yan Ge. The Wedding Party is available for purchase now through Bookshop.org.
In Case of Emergency, by Mahsa Mohebali and translated from Persian/Farsi by Rahmani, combines the personal and the apocalyptic in what Associate Professor Natasha Wimmer calls a “macabre urban carnival of a novel.” Through its compelling, disaffected narrator, the novel asks what happens when opiate withdrawal is a more menacing disaster than the end of the world. Professor and Director of the Literary Translation at Columbia Program Susan Bernofsky calls the novel “Hypnotic. Rahmani beautifully captures Mohebali’s slangy, strung-out narration.” In Case of Emergency is available for purchase now through The Feminist Press.
Among the Hedges, by Spanish author Sara Mesa and translated by McDowell, chronicles the unlikely friendship between a shy fourteen-year-old girl and a mysterious, oddly childlike older man. As they hide from the world, together in their exile, the old man’s unsettling history and the child’s lies threaten their newfound companionship. ABC Cultural calls Among the Hedges, “A much-needed novel for our times.” McDowell’s translation is available for purchase now through Open Letter Books.
In a new edition of The Flowers of Evil, translated from the French by Poochigian, Charles Baudelaire’s gritty and uncompromising poetry about everyday life proves just as relevant as ever. Two hundred years after his birth, Baudelaire’s most famous work is rendered fresh for another generation to discover, and old fans to discover anew. Author Matthew Beaumont says of the poems, “The ‘distinctive skill’ of their translator, Aaron Poochigian, to echo phrases from Baudelaire himself, render[s] the poems ‘incontrovertibly beautiful.’” The Flowers of Evil is available for purchase now through WW Norton.
Winners will be announced at ALTA’s forty-fifth annual Awards Ceremony, which will be held virtually on October 6. Registration for the event, which is free and open to the public, is available now.