2018 National Book Award for Translated Literature Announced

Just back from the 2018 National Book Award ceremony, I am delighted to announce that the first annual (revived) National Book Award for Translated Literature has been awarded to Margaret Mitsutani’s translation of The Emissary by Yoko Tawada, published by New Directions. The judges’ citation reads: “The Emissary is set in near-future Japan – ecologically devastated and socially isolated – in which children are fragile and deteriorate with age even as the great-grandparents left to raise them grow older and stronger. In Margaret Mitsutani’s translation, Yoko Tawada’s novel is playful, powerful, and wise. She brings to life a world in which boundaries between species, families, and genders blur and reconfigure. Tawada’s characters embody the idea that just living is not enough when the future is at stake.” It’s a stunning book. And in general, my takeaway from the first year of the old-new National Book Award for Translated Literature is that there is a wealth of gorgeous translated works being published right now that ought to have more readers, above all because of the pleasures and insights they offer. I would urge readers to look hard at the short– and longlists for this year’s prize, which are loaded with amazing books. Meanwhile, big congratulations to Tawada and Mitsutani on having their gorgeous book chosen for the award!

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