The 2022 National Book Awards Longlist: Translated Literature

This week, The New Yorker will be announcing the longlists for the 2022 National Book Awards. 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 novel, the first in a planned trilogy, explores the porousness of borders, climate change, language, and forced migration.

“Scattered All Over the Earth” is one of two dystopian novels on the longlist for this year’s National Book Award for Translated Literature, 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 and 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 National Book Awards. The full list is below.

Mohammed Hasan Alwan, “Ibn Arabi’s Small Death
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
Translated, 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, by Megan McDowell
Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House

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

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

Olga Tokarczuk, “The Books of Jacob
Translated, from the Polish, by Jennifer Croft
Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House

The judges for the category this year are Nick Buzanski, the general manager of Books Are Magic; Veronica Esposito, a writer and 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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