Three Percent’s “Best Translated Book of the Year”

Three Percent, the website for translated fiction run by Chad Post at the University of Rochester, is limbering up to select its “Best Translated Book of the Year”.

A longlist of 25 titles will be announced in December, then a shortlist in January and a winner in February.

Chad writes:

In addition to our panelists, we really want to enlist your help. So, if you have any titles you’d like to recommend, please post them in the comments below, or e-mail me at at rochester dot edu. We’ll include all reader votes in deciding on the longlist. And as we did last year, we’ll allow everyone to vote on the shortlist and will announce your choice along with the panel’s as the best translation of the year.

In view of my interest in Italian translation, I immediately had a look at Three Percent’s list of translated fiction.  From Chad’s figures, it appears that only 14 Italian books have been published in translation in the US this year (although I’m a bit confused about this geographical distinction because a few of the publishers are actually based in the UK).  This represents a paltry 4% (give or take) of the 328 translated titles published (to date), which in turn represent just 0.6% of all literature published in the United States during 2008 (based on the assumption that the figures will be similar to 2007).

Anyway, perhaps we should be thankful that in this economic climate there are any translations happening at all… so roll on the publication of the longlist.

The only Italian books I’ve read are those published by Bitter Lemon Press (an excellent, small UK-based publisher specialising in “crime fiction that exposes the darker side of foreign places”):  Crimini is an anthology edited by Giancarlo De Cataldo (translated by Andrew Brown) and Blackout is by Gianluca Morozzi (translated by Howard Curtis).


I attended Giancarlo De Cataldo’s presentation of the crime anthology at the Edinburgh Book Festival this summer.  He is an appeals court judge in Rome and author of the acclaimed novel Romanzo Criminale (which was made into a major film in 2005).  He said that his overriding intention in putting together this anthology was to draw attention to Italy’s social malaise since he was extremely worried that the current generation of school-leavers and students had no real grasp of the seriousness of the situation facing Italy.

The other Italian book I saw that interests me is Alain Elkann’s Envy, translated by Alastair McEwen and published by Pushkin Press (also a UK-based publisher).  I haven’t read this, but it sounds very worthwhile.


Anyway, post your comments about these and other translations to Chad Post at Three Percent or using the email given above.

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