Best Translated Book Award

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Best Translated Book Award
Awarded for Best original translation of a work of fiction and poetry into English
Country United States
Host Three Percent
Reward $5,000
First awarded 2008
Last awarded Active
Official website

The Best Translated Book Award is an American literary award that recognizes the previous year's best original translation into English, one book of poetry and one of fiction. It was inaugurated in 2008 and is conferred by Three Percent, the online literary magazine of Open Letter Books, which is the book translation press of the University of Rochester. A long list and short list are announced leading up to the award.

The award takes into consideration not only the quality of the translation but the entire package: the work of the original writer, translator, editor, and publisher. The award is "an opportunity to honor and celebrate the translators, editors, publishers, and other literary supporters who help make literature from other cultures available to American readers."[1]

In October 2010 announced it would be underwriting the prize with a $25,000 grant.[2] This would allow both the translator and author to receive a $5,000 prize. Prior to this the award did not carry a cash prize.


The first awards were given in 2008 for books published in 2007. The Best Translation Book Awards are inconsistently dated by the presentation year (used here) and the publication year (one year earlier).[3]

Blue ribbon = winner.


The award was announced January 4, 2008 for books published in 2007.[4] It was the first award and was based on open voting by readers of Three Percent, who also nominated the longlist.[5]

Fiction shortlist

Poetry shortlist

  • The Drug of Art: Selected Poems by Ivan Blatny, translated from Czech by Justin Quinn, Matthew Sweney, Alex Zucker, Veronika Tuckerova, and Anna Moschovakis. (Ugly Duckling)
  • The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950–1492 edited and translated from Hebrew by Peter Cole. (Princeton)
  • The Collected Poems: 1956–1998 by Zbigniew Herbert, translated from Polish by Czesław Miłosz, Peter Dale Scott, and Alissa Valles. (Ecco)


The award was announced February 19, 2009 for book published in 2008. There was a ceremony at Melville House Publishing in Brooklyn hosted by author and critic Francisco Goldman.[6]

Fiction shortlist

Poetry shortlist

  • Blue ribbon For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnut by Takashi Hiraide, translated from the Japanese by Sawako Nakayasu. (New Directions)
  • Essential Poems and Writings by Robert Desnos, translated from the French by Mary Ann Caws, Terry Hale, Bill Zavatsky, Martin Sorrell, Jonathan Eburne, Katherine Connelly, Patricia Terry, and Paul Auster. (Black Widow)
  • You Are the Business by Caroline Dubois, translated from the French by Cole Swensen. (Burning Deck)
  • As It Turned Out by Dmitry Golynko, translated from the Russian by Eugene Ostashevsky, Rebecca Bella, and Simona Schneider. (Ugly Duckling)
  • Poems of A.O. Barnabooth by Valery Larbaud, translated from the French by Ron Padgett & Bill Zavatsky. (Black Widow)
  • Night Wraps the Sky by Vladimir Mayakovsky, translated from the Russian by Katya Apekina, Val Vinokur, and Matvei Yankelevich, and edited by Michael Almereyda. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • A Different Practice by Fredrik Nyberg, translated from the Swedish by Jennifer Hayashida. (Ugly Duckling)
  • EyeSeas by Raymond Queneau, translated from the French by Daniela Hurezanu and Stephen Kessler. (Black Widow)
  • Peregrinary by Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dycki, translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston. (Zephyr)
  • Eternal Enemies by Adam Zagajewski, translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)


The award was announced March 10, 2010 at Idlewild Books.[7] According to award organizer Chad Post, "On the fiction side of things we debated and debated for weeks. There were easily four other titles that could’ve easily won this thing. Walser, Prieto, Aira were all very strong contenders."[8]

Fiction shortlist

Poetry shortlist

  • Blue ribbon Elena Fanailova, The Russian Version. Translated from the Russian by Genya Turovskaya and Stephanie Sandler. (Russia, Ugly Duckling Presse)
  • Nicole Brossard, Selections. Translated from the French by various. (Canada, University of California)
  • René Char, The Brittle Age and Returning Upland. Translated from the French by Gustaf Sobin. (France, Counterpath)
  • Mahmoud Darwish, If I Were Another. Translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah (Palestine, FSG)
  • Hiromi Ito, Killing Kanoko. Translated from the Japanese by Jeffrey Angles. (Japan, Action Books)
  • Marcelijus Martinaitis, KB: The Suspect. Translated from the Lithuanian by Laima Vince. (Lithuania, White Pine)
  • Heeduk Ra, Scale and Stairs. Translated from the Korean by Woo-Chung Kim and Christopher Merrill. (Korea, White Pine)
  • Novica Tadic, Dark Things. Translated from the Serbian by Charles Simic. (Serbia, BOA Editions)
  • Liliana Ursu, Lightwall. Translated from the Romanian by Sean Cotter. (Romania, Zephyr Press)
  • Wei Ying-wu, In Such Hard Times. Translated from the Chinese by Red Pine. (China, Copper Canyon)


On January 27, 2011, the 25-title fiction longlist was announced. On March 24 the shortlists were announced (10-fiction, 5-poetry),[9] and the winning titles were announced at the PEN World Voices Festival on April 29 by Lorin Stein.[10]

Fiction shortlist

Poetry shortlist

  • Blue ribbon The Book of Things by Aleš Šteger, translated from the Slovenian by Brian Henry (BOA Editions) [12]
  • Geometries by Eugene Guillevic, translated from the French by Richard Sieburth (Ugly Ducking)
  • Flash Cards by Yu Jian, translated from the Chinese by Wang Ping and Ron Padgett (Zephyr Press)
  • Time of Sky & Castles in the Air by Ayane Kawata, translated from the Japanese by Sawako Nakayasu (Litmus Press)
  • Child of Nature by Luljeta Lleshanaku, translated from the Albanian by Henry Israeli and Shpresa Qatipi (New Directions)


On February 28, 2012, the 25-title fiction longlist was announced.[13] On April 10, 2012, the 10 finalists were announced in fiction and 6 poetry.[14] The winners were announced on May 4.[15] Each winning book received $10,000 of prize money divided among the author and translators, the second year a cash prize was awarded with the sponsorship of

Fiction shortlist

Poetry shortlist


On April 10, 2013, the poetry and fiction shortlists were announced.[17][18] The winners were announced May 6.[19]

Fiction shortlist

Poetry shortlist


The fiction longlist was announced March 11, 2014,[20] the shortlist was announced April 14,[21][22] and the winners and two runner-ups in each category were announced April 28.[23]

Fiction shortlist, runner-ups and winner

Poetry shortlist, runner-ups and winner


  1. ^ "EVENT: '2009 Best Translated Book Awards' to be Announced on Feb. 19", Feb 13, 2009
  2. ^ " to Underwrite Open Letter's Best Translated Book Awards". The Daily Record. 2010-10-21. Retrieved September 25, 2012. 
  3. ^ Three Percent has been inconsistent in naming the award, sometimes using the year in which the books were published, as in this example, other times naming it for the year in which the award is given (the following year), as in this official press release.
  4. ^ "And the winner is..", post by Chad Post
  5. ^ 2007 long list
  6. ^ "2009 Best Translated Book Winners"
  7. ^ official 2010 BTBA Winners Press Release
  8. ^ Chad Post. "Best Translated Book Award Winners (BTBA) 2010", March 10, 2010.
  9. ^ 2011 Best Translated Book Award Finalists, Chad Post, March 23, 2011
  10. ^ "2011 Best Translated Book Award Winners: Aleš Šteger’s "The Book of Things" and Tove Jansson’s "The True Deceiver"", Chad Post, Three Percent, April 29, 2011.
  11. ^ "Swedish novel, Slovenian poetry win $5,000 prizes". Associated Press. May 5, 2011. 
  12. ^ RD Pohl (May 11, 2012). "Steger's "The Book of Things" wins Best Translated Book Award for BOA Editions". Buffalo News. 
  13. ^ And Here It Is: The BTBA 2012 Fiction Longlist, Chad Post, Three Percent, 28 Feb 2012.
  14. ^ "2012 Best Translated Book Award Finalists: Fiction and Poetry", Chad Post, Three Percent, April 10, 2012.
  15. ^ The 2012 Best Translated Book Award Winners, Chad Post, Three Percent, May 4, 2012.
  16. ^ "Books from Japan and Poland win translation awards". Associated Press. May 4, 2012. 
  17. ^ Chad W. Post (April 10, 2013). "2013 Best Translated Book Award: The Fiction Finalists". Three Percent. Retrieved April 11, 2013. 
  18. ^ Chad W. Post (April 10, 2013). "2013 Best Translated Book Award: The Poetry Finalists". Three Percent. Retrieved April 11, 2013. 
  19. ^ Chad W. Post (May 6, 2013). "2013 BTBA Winners: Satantango and Wheel with a Single Spoke". Three Percent. Retrieved April 28, 2014. 
  20. ^ Chad W. Post (March 11, 2014). "BTBA 2014 Fiction Longlist: It's Here!". Three Percent. Retrieved March 11, 2014. 
  21. ^ Chad W. Post (April 14, 2014). "2014 Best Translated Book Awards: Poetry Finalists". Three Percent. Retrieved April 16, 2014. 
  22. ^ Chad W. Post (April 14, 2014). "2014 Best Translated Book Awards: Fiction Finalists". Three Percent. Retrieved April 18, 2014. 
  23. ^ Chad W. Post (April 28, 2014). "BTBA 2014: Poetry and Fiction Winners". Three Percent. Retrieved April 28, 2014. 

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