PEN America has announced the recipients of this year’s PEN/Heim Translation Fund grants and there’s some great writing from Central and Eastern Europe in the works as well as from the rest of the world.
First of all, B O D Y’s own Stephan Delbos along with Tereza Novická won for their translation of The Absolute Gravedigger by Czech Surrealist Vítězslav Nezval. “Published in 1937, this book of poems is not only a dark and prescient avant-garde document of Europe in crisis, but highlights Prague as the twin capital of surrealism with Paris”.
The book will be published by Twisted Spoon Press, which also, incidentally, has published Olga Tokarczuk, a translation of her novel The Books of Jacob providing a grant for Jennifer Croft. The novel “brings to life the historical figure of Jacob Frank, Messianic leader of a mysterious 18th-century Jewish splinter group that believed in “purification through transgression.” It was Jennifer Croft whose translation of a short story by Janusz Rudnicki in Best European Fiction brought that amazing writer to my attention (and go on to publish some of his work in B O D Y).
Then there’s Amanda DeMarco of Readux Books (whose books have appeared and been reviewed in B O D Y as well and who I’ve known for quite a while now) who won for a translation of Gaston de Pawlowski’s Inventions and the Latest Innovations, a book first published in French that is a “catalog of absurd imaginary gadgets and ‘improvements,’ an early satire on consumer society and the cult of the inventor.” The book will be published by Wakefield Press.
One other highlight of the awards for me is Lee Klein’s win for Revulsion: Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador, by the great Horacio Castellanos Moya.
See all the winners here
Photo – Vítězslav Nezval