France Rewards Translators

The prestigious Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire have always been friendly to translation into French. This year they gave prizes for translated novels, short fiction and YA novels, and their Bande Dessinée (comic) and Manga winners were also translated. There is even a prize specifically for translators (into French). But they also went further, giving a special prize to Jean-Marc Lofficier and Brian Stableford for their work translating French language science fiction into English and publishing it through Black Coat Press.

The full list of winners is available (in English) via Science Fiction Awards Watch and (in French) via Noosfere.

Clute on Ajvaz

Over at Strange Horizons, John Clute reviews the translated novels of Czech writer, Michal Ajvaz. These are The Other City (published last year) and The Golden Age, which hit the bookstores in April and is therefore definitely eligible for our awards.

The Golden Age is translated by Andrew Oakland and published by Dalkey Archive Press. It is described as “a fantastical travelogue in which a modern-day Gulliver writes a book about a civilization he once encountered on a tiny island in the Atlantic.”

Amazon Launches Translation Imprint

There’s some big news from Amazon today. They are launching a new imprint, AmazonCrossing, that is dedicated to publishing works translated into English. According to the press release, Amazon is planning to make use of knowledge gained from its international business. Vice President of Books, Jeff Belle, said:

Our international customers have made us aware of exciting established and emerging voices from other cultures and countries that have not been translated for English-language readers. These great voices and great books deserve a wider audience, and that’s why we created AmazonCrossing.

Thus far only one title has been announced, and it does not appear to be genre. We look forward to hearing about more titles in future.

Another Russian

Niall Harrison of Torque Control writes to let us know about Living Souls, a novel by Dmitry Bykov (translated by Cathy Porter). The book appears to be a political satire and in set in Russia a few decades in the future after a civil war. Here’s an extract from the blurb:

In a world a few decades from now, Russia has lost its influence and descended into a farcical civil war. With an extreme right-wing cult in power, racial tensions have divided the country into the Varangians – those who consider themselves to be the original Aryan settlers of Russia – and the Khazars, the liberals and Jews driven out of Moscow by recent events. Morale has reached an all-time low as the brutality and pointlessness of the situation is becoming more and more apparent: what is left of the fighting now revolves around capturing and recapturing Degunino, a seemingly magical village with an abundance of pies, vodka and accommodating womenfolk.

The Times has a review here.

Japanese Literature Publishing Project

At Three Percent Chad W. Post has been talking about the Japanese Literature Publishing Project. This is an initiative of the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs aimed at bringing Japanese writers to the attention of the rest of the world. Post lists a number of newly translated books, several of which are of interest to us.

Punk Samurai and the Cult (Panku samurai kirarete soro) by Ko Machida is described as a fantasy.

Colorful (Karafuru) by Eto Mori is described as a juvenile fantasy.

It isn’t clear whether Ghosts and Lower-class Samurai and Other Stories (Yukensho) by Hideyuki Kikuchi is fantastical or not, but some of Kikuchi’s novels are the basis of the highly successful manga and anime series, Vampire Hunter D.

A Scientific Mystery

Here’s a translated novel that doesn’t appear to actually be science fiction, but may well appeal to science fiction readers. Dark Matter by Germany’s Juli Zeh is a mystery novel, but the characters in the novel are physicists, and according to this review of the English translation Zeh uses this as an excuse to play with issues such as causality and the nature of time.

Penguin Central European Classics

War with the NewtsPenguin Classics are about to publish a new series of translated works by authors from Central Europe. Headlining the series is War with the Newts by Czech writer, Karel Čapek, the man who invented the term “robot”. Penguin’s blurb for the book states:

… Karel Čapek’s darkly humorous allegory of early twentieth-century Czech and Fascist politics. A colony of newts is discovered in Sumatra, they are taught to trade, use tools, but also to speak. It is clear that this new species is ripe for exploitation, but the humans have given no thought to the terrible consequences of their actions.

Check out Larry Nolen’s review here for further information.

Fortunately for other writers, Penguin’s publication is not a new translation but rather a reprint. That means it is not eligible for our awards. However, we applaud them for bringing this science fiction classic back into print.

The other books in the series are far less fantastical though, judging from this Guardian review, speculative fiction readers may well enjoy the work of Sławomir Mrozek.

Further details about the books Penguin are publishing can be found at their website.

Some Translation Links

Here are a few translation-related stories from around the blogosphere from the past few weeks:

– Jeff VanderMeer interviews Czech novelist and poet Michael Ajvaz;

– Concatenation lists Unseen Mainland European SF Classics;

– Nick Mamatas at Haikasoru blogs about one of their new releases: The Stories of Ibis by Hiroshi Yamamoto;

– Feng Zhang writes about a famous Chinese fanzine, Xin Huan Jie (New Realms of Fantasy and Science Fiction);

– Chad W. Post reviews Edie Grossman’s Why Translation Matters;

– Tim Parks tells The Guardian why translators deserve to be noticed;

– Edward Gauvin suggests that translating might be a bit like writing science fiction.