The 2022 National Book Awards Longlist: Translated Literature – The New Yorker

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The 2022 National Book Awards Longlist: Translated Literature

Illustration of a book reflecting the sky

Illustration by Karan Singh

This week, The New Yorker will be announcing the longlists for the 2022 National Book Honours. This morning, we presented the ten contenders in the category of Young People’s Literature . Check back tomorrow morning for Poetry.

Yoko Tawada, who was born in Tokyo and lives in Berlin, has written some of her books in Japanese and others in German. Tawada, Julian Lucas writes in his review of her latest novel, “Scattered All Over the Earth, ” has been called “the world’s leading practitioner of ‘exophonic literature, ’ or writing in a foreign language, a description that her unique practice has made applicable to nearly all her work. ” In “Scattered All Over the Earth, ” a climate refugee from Japan—a country that, along with her mother tongue, no longer exists—teaches a language she has invented to young immigrants in Denmark. The particular novel, the first in a planned trilogy, explores the porousness of borders, climate change, language, and forced migration.

“Scattered All around the Earth” is one of two dystopian novels on the longlist for this year’s National Book Award for Translated Books, along with Olga Ravn’s “The Employees, ” a workplace satire set aboard a twenty-second-century spaceship. Other nominated works explore mysticism, mythology, and religion across the centuries: “Ibn Arabi’s Small Death, ” by Mohammed Hasan Alwan, fictionalizes the life of the Sufi master, poet, and philosopher Ibn Arabi; Olga Tokarczuk’s “The Books of Jacob” is based on the eighteenth-century historical figure Jacob Frank, whose charisma led many to believe he was the Messiah; and Scholastique Mukasonga’s “Kibogo” depicts the clash between Rwanda’s core mythologies plus attempts by colonialists and Christian missionaries to suppress and erase them. The ten books being considered for the award were originally published in nine different languages. Six honorees have previously been recognized by the particular National Book Awards. The full list is below.

Mohammed Hasan Alwan , “ Ibn Arabi’s Small Dying
Translated, from the Arabic, by William M. Hutchins
Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin

Jon Fosse , “ A New Name: Septology VI-VII
Translated, from the Norwegian, by Damion Searls
Transit Books

Shahriar Mandanipour , “ Seasons of Purgatory
Translated, from the Persian, by Sara Khalili
Bellevue Literary Press

Scholastique Mukasonga , “ Kibogo
Translated, from the French, by Mark Polizzotti
Archipelago Books

Mónica Ojeda , “ Jawbone
Converted, from the Spanish, by Sarah Booker
Coffee House Press

Olga Ravn , “ The Employees
Translated, from the Danish, by Martin Aitken
New Directions Publishing

Samanta Schweblin , “ Seven Empty Houses
Translated, from the Spanish, simply by Megan McDowell
Riverhead Publications / Penguin Random House

Saša Stanišić , “ Where You Come From
Translated, from the German, by Damion Searls
Tin House Books

Yoko Tawada , “ Scattered Throughout the Earth
Translated, from the Japanese. by Margaret Mitsutani
New Directions Publishing

Olga Tokarczuk , “ The Books associated with Jacob
Translated, from the Polish, simply by Jennifer Croft
Riverhead Textbooks / Penguin Random Home

The judges for the category this year are Nick Buzanski, the general manager of Books Are Magic; Veronica Esposito, a writer plus mental-health clinician in training; Ann Goldstein, who has translated the work of Elena Ferrante and more than twenty other writers into English; Rohan Kamicheril, the editor and founder of the cooking Web site Tiffin; and Russell Scott Valentino, who teaches Slavic and Eastern European literature at Indiana University Bloomington.   ♦

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