Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize: 2018 Winner

The winner of the 2018 shortlist is Lisa Dillman for Andrés Barba’s Such Small Hands (Portobello Books)

Lisa Dillman was announced as the winner at the prizegiving and dinner at St Anne’s College, Oxford on Saturday 9 June 2018. This was the crowning event of Oxford Translation Day, which boasted a varied programme of talks, workshops and readings. Details are available at: http://www.occt.ox.ac.uk/oxford-translation-day-2018.

This year’s judges of the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize were the academics Kasia Szymanska, Simon Park, Jessica Stacey, and Adriana X. Jacobs (Chair). Once again we had impressive submissions from both larger and smaller publishing houses. The 2018 Oxford-Weidenfeld shortlist included eight books from an outstanding entry of 112 titles in translations from 24 different languages. The shortlist contains translations from six languages. 

The 2018 shortlist:

• Misha Hoekstra for Dorthe Nors’s Mirror, Shoulder, Signal (Pushkin Press)

• Susan Bernofsky for Yoko Tawada’s Memoirs of a Polar Bear (Portobello Books)

• Forrest Gander for Pablo Neruda’s Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda Poems (Bloodaxe Books)

• Helen Constantine for Émile Zola’s A Love Story (Oxford University Press)

• Laura Marris for Louis Guilloux’s Blood Dark (New York Review Books)

• Lisa Dillman for Andrés Barba’s Such Small Hands (Portobello Books)

• Michael Lucey for Édouard Louis’s The End of Eddy (Harvill Secker)

• Celia Hawkesworth for Daša Drndi?’s Belladonna (MacLehose Press)

The judge’s citation for the winning book:

Winner: Andrés Barba, Such Small Hands, translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman (Portobello Books)

This year’s Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize goes to Lisa Dillman’s translation of Andrés Barba’s Such Small Hands, published by Portobello Books. Dillman’s translation of Yuri Herrera’s The Transmigration of Bodies (And Other Stories) was one of last year’s shortlisted entries, so her brisk return to the shortlist this year is both a testament to her fine skills as a translator, as well as to the publishers who have supported her work. In Such Small Hands, Andrés Barba transforms the creepy clichés of horror movies into a tense exploration of group psychology and trauma. It is a classic tale of a new arrival disrupting a community, but Barba manages to keep us wondering whether the cuckoo or the nest is more terrifying. Barba’s attention to the sometimes talismanic quality of language, phrases that bring security or propel uncomfortable revelations, is matched by Dillman’s carefully paced translation, one that takes us into this feverish world animated by the inarticulable desires and violence of childhood. Make this your next bedtime reading but bear in mind that this story carries a high risk of keeping you up at night. That this is the case owes a great deal to Dillman’s translation, which pushes language to a near-breaking point, into a zone where translation truly takes on a life of its own and acquires its own monsters. We also acknowledge here the particular challenges of translating a novella. As the story progresses, the tension that quickly builds between these characters owes much to the novel’s tight economy of language, and to Dillman’s ability to recast Barba’s taut sentences and disconcerting syntax in her own comparably unsettling English translation.

Read the citations for all the shortlisted books at: http://www.st-annes.ox.ac.uk/about/the-oxford-weidenfeld-translation-prize 

The Oxford–Weidenfeld Prize is for book-length literary translations into English from any living European language. It aims to honour the craft of translation, and to recognise its cultural importance. It was founded by Lord Weidenfeld and is supported by New College, The Queen’s College and St Anne’s College, Oxford.

Recent winners include: Frank Perry for Lina Wolff’s Bret Easton Ellis and the Other Dogs (And Other Stories); Philip Roughton for Jón Kalman Stefánsson’s The Heart of Man (MacLehose Press); Paul Vincent and John Irons for 100 Dutch-Language Poems (Holland Park Press); Susan Bernofsky for Jenny Erpenbeck’s The End of Days (Portobello); Susan Wicks for Valérie Rouzeau’s Talking Vrouz (Arc Publications); Philip Boehm for Herta Müller’s The Hunger Angel (Portobello); Judith Landry for Diego Marani’s New Finnish Grammar (Dedalus); Margaret Jull Costa for Jose Saramago’s The Elephant’s Journey (Harvill Secker); Jamie McKendrick for Valerio Magrelli’s The Embrace (Faber and Faber); Anthea Bell for Sasa Stanisic’s How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone (Weidenfeld and Nicolson).

Enquiries may be addressed to Dr Eleni Philippou at Comparative.Criticism@st-annes.ox.ac.u