2015 Translation Awards – By the Numbers

None of the 10 authors nominated for the Man Booker International Prize has a book on the 4 longlists.

There are 76 spots on the combined longlists, including the 6 write-in spots for the Typographical Translation Prize. (3 of the 6 write-in titles show up on 1 of the 3 other longlists).

There are 62 unique titles across the 4 lists.

34 of the books are from Europe, 14 Latin America, 9 from Asia, 3 from Africa, 1 from the Middle East, 1 from North America.

France has the most books on the combined lists – 7.

There are 19 female authors represented & 41 male authors.

Bohumil Hrabal has 2 separate titles on The Best Translated Book Award longlist (translated by 2 different translators).

The I Ching translated by John Minford has no attributable author.

Baboon by Naja Marie Aidt, translated by Denise Newman, is the only title on 3 lists – The Best Translated Book Award, The PEN Translation Prize & The Typographical Translation Prize.  All 3 are American prizes, which has me wondering whether it is eligible for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize?

12 titles appear on 2 of the lists.

Texas. The Great Theft by Carmen Boullosa, translated by Samantha Schnee won The Typographical Translation Prize and is longlisted for the PEN Translation Prize.

There are 58 individual translators across the 4 longlists.

4 titles were translated by a pair/team of translators.

2 translators on The Typographical Translation Prize longlist are brother & sister. Neither won.

7 translators have 2 books on the lists – Andrew Bromfield, Daniel Hahn, Silvestor Mazarella, Polly Gannon, Margaret Jull Costa, Jordan Stump & Don Bartlett.

Margaret Jull Costa is competing against herself for the Best Translated Book Award.


7 thoughts on “2015 Translation Awards – By the Numbers

    1. Morning Stu! Yes I thought it would be fun to see what the common factors, if there are any, might be. But it’s all very unscientific. The IFFP probably skewed the results since some the books on that longlist aren’t available in the States and so weren’t eligible for the other prizes. (For example, all the books from Germany are on the IFFP list). Still, I did expect a little more crossover.


  1. Thanks for the report, tolmsted! You say, “There are 19 female authors represented & 41 male authors.” There’s quite a gender gap here — why? Longlists, shortlists, and awards for books in translation are notorious for excluding women authors (not just of books in translation). One underlying reason is that women authors are not published in translation as much as men authors: I analyzed the 2014 Three Percent database and found that 32% of the titles were by women, and 68% by men. HOWEVER please note that the longlist for the 2015 PEN Translation Prize is the best in terms of gender parity: of the longlisted authors, 4 are women, 5 are men, and 1 is anonymous. Of the longlisted translators 5 are women and 5 are men. (And the PEN Translation Prize is the only one among these prizes that specifically spotlights the art of the translator).


    1. Evening Margaret, thanks so much for your comment. I was aware of the disparity. Last Summer the blogger Biblibio did a series of posts regarding this gender disparity, culminating in Women In Translation Month, which she held in August. She also used the database to crunch the number and I believe she consistently found a 1/3 imbalance every year. Strange isn’t it? Why? was a hot topic of discussion for a while, but I don’t think we ever discovered an answer.

      You are absolutely right about the PEN Translation Prize being the most gender balanced of the prizes included in this post. I’m glad you pointed it out. But I thought The Best Translated Book Award also spotlighted the translator? Am I wrong?


      1. The PEN Translation Prize, awarded since 1963, was one of the first prizes for literary translators. I don’t have the exact language here, but when I was on the jury in 2013 I received a statement saying it was founded to honor the art of the translator. Of course, the underlying quality of the book that’s translated is a big factor, but it’s not a prize that’s shared between author and translator. It’s just for the translator.
        I found this statement on the BTBA webpage: “The Best Translated Book Awards aim to bring attention to the best original works of international fiction and poetry published in the US during the previous year.” I’m not saying the translator is ignored in the BTBA deliberations, but you don’t see anything highlighting the role of the translator in the founding statement. The citation written for the PEN Translation Prize specifically commends the translator.
        Another prize that’s specifically for translators is the National Translation Award, administered by ALTA, the American Literary Translators Association, and awarded in the Fall. They announce a longlist (in the summer) and a shortlist (early fall), too.
        As to the question of the gender gap: I only recently came across Bibliobio’s website and realized that I was completing her job (she only did half of 2014; I’ve looked at the entire Three Percent database). I also did a breakdown by language, country and US publisher. I’m co-moderating a panel at PEN World Voices (it comes right before the one you’re doing on literary bloggers) about the gender gap in translations of international literature. Hard to come up with solutions because there are so many filters when it comes to how a foreign book reaches the attention of US publishers. But we want to raise consciousness, as VIDA has done with its annual VIDA count. Across the board, men dominate by big numbers when it comes to literature in translation.
        Hope to see you there! (SAt. May 9 at 1 pm, Albertine)


        Liked by 1 person

  2. There may be a regrettable gender gap between male and female authors on the translated literature lists but as a male reader with an abysmal representation of female authors in his reading over the past few years, I have to say that reading the IFFP longlist with the shadow jury and now digging into titles from the BTBA selection, my ratio is rapidly improving. So in a strange way, focusing on more translated work is introducing me to more female writers. It’s a start. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s