Saturday, November 14, 2020

On Judging the Italian Prose in Translation Award

This past year, I was a judge for the Italian Prose in Translation Award, given each year by the industry association known as ALTA (the American Literary Translators Association).

And what that's meant is tons of Italian literature making its way to my house. Or maybe better yet, just more than usual. It has also illustrated to me in a very personal way how difficult it is to nail a good translation. So many variables, so many tricky word combos to get right.

The five finalists were all quite worthy. They included an intriguing murder-mystery by an author I'd never encountered before (Piero Chiara) and a translator (Jill Foulston) whose work was so fluid, I forgot at times I wasn't reading in the original language; and a fictional account of the women charged with pre-tasting Hitler's food to screen out poisons (written by Rosella Postorino and translated by Leah Janeczko).

Ultimately, the award went to Frederika Randall, who translated the wonderfully innovative novel, I Am God by Giacomo Sartori. I am sorry to say the awarding was posthumous as we lost Randall this year (after impressive careers in journalism AND literary translation).

More information and the full list of IPTA finalists here: