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The Confessions of Noa Weber Wins Translation Award

Following up on my interview with judge M.A. Orthofer, I'm pleased to report that the winners of the University of Rochester's Best Translated Book Awards are, in poetry, Elena Fanailova for The Russian Version, translated from the Russian by Genya Turovskaya and Stephanie Sandler and published by Ugly Duckling Presse, and in fiction, Melville House's The Confessions of Noa Weber by Gail Hareven, translated from the Hebrew by Dalya Bilu.

More on the award and the winning novel below the cut. (I'd also like to draw your attention to what are in the main untranslated works from around the world, published in 2009 in the realm of speculative fiction, posted at Locus Online.)


Organized by Three Percent at the University of Rochester, the Best Translated Book Award is the only prize of its kind to honor the best original works of international literature and poetry published in the U.S. over the past year. This year the awards ceremony was hosted by Manhattan independent bookstore Idlewild Books.

Says co-publisher Dennis Loy Johnson, "Our mission [is] to trumpet [translated] work loudly, and to work aggressively to get that work in the hands of as many people as possible, especially those who would not normally encounter translated literature."

The Confessions of Noa Weber is the story of a woman who leads a successful "feminist" life: she has a strong career, a wonderful daughter she raised alone, and she is a recognized and respected author. Yet her interior life is bound by her obsessive love for one man--Alek, a Russian émigré and the father of her child, who has drifted in and out of her life. Trying to understand-as well as free herself from-this lifelong obsession, Noa turns her pen on herself, and with relentless honesty dissects her life. Against the evocative setting of turbulent, modernday Israel, this examination becomes a quest to transform irrational desire into a greater, transcendent understanding of love.

The fiction judges this year were Monica Carter (Skylight Books and Salonica), Scott Esposito (Conversational Reading and Center for the Art of Translation), Susan Harris (Words Without Borders), translator Annie Janusch, Brandon Kennedy (Spoonbill & Sugartown bookstore), Bill Marx (PRI's The World: World Books), Michael Orthofer (Complete Review), Chad W. Post (Open Letter and Three Percent) and Jeff Waxman (Seminary Co-Op and The Front Table).


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