Thursday, September 15, 2016

Live from Moscow Maine: Read Russia Winners

I’d planned to post a list of the winners of the Read Russia Prize while I was still in Moscow: I even set up a post with all the shortlisted names and titles, figuring I’d just work from there, deleting those who didn’t win (including myself), and be done in three minutes. Becoming part of the news, which is now old, though, made me want to post more than just a list of winners. First off, here’s the list:

  • Joaquín Fernández-Valdés and Alba for Ivan Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons (Spain)
  • Selma Ancira and Fondo de Cultura Económica for short stories by twentieth-century writers (Tsvetaeva, Pasternak, Blok, Gumilev, Mandelstam, Bunin, Bulgakov, and Berberova) (Mexico)
  • Lisa Hayden and Oneworld Publications for Eugene Vodolazkin’s Laurus (US and UK)
  • Claudia Scandura and Gattomerlino for Sergei Gandlevsky’s Rust and Yellow (Italy)
Joaquín, Lisa, Claudia, Selma; photo by Anatoli Stepanenko.

There are lots of great things about the Read Russia Prize but I particularly like the fact that it recognizes translators and publishers. And, I admit, that the ceremony takes place in beautiful, historical Pashkov House. It was particularly lovely that Eugene and his wife, who have both become good friends, were at the ceremony and that I was seated with them. They were at the Translator Congress, too, where Eugene spoke just before I did (thank goodness!) during the plenary session.

The title of Alexandra Guzeva’s article about the award referred to a translation “Oscar,” which is apt because all of us thanked lots of people in our speeches. I read my list after I said the translation itself was “fun,” something someone expressed surprise about later! (What could be more fun than translating a combination of archaic language and contemporary slang, anyway?! This is how people like me get their kicks.) I didn’t throw away my scribbled list so want to type it in here: lots of people helped me with that translation and they deserve recognition. I never tire of making these lists because translating a book isn’t a one-person job even if the copyright consists of only one name.

I thanked:
-members of the jury;
-everyone at the Institute of Translation;
-Oneworld Publications, particularly Juliet Mabey, who hired me for the job despite my lack of experience, and copy editor Will Atkins, whose work went so far in improving the translation;
-Liza Prudovskaya and Olga Bukhina, both of whom went over a draft of my translation;
-Eugene’s literary agents Natasha Banke and Julia Goumen, who asked (in a Facebook mail exchange, if I remember correctly) if I wanted to translate excerpts of the novel back in early 2013; and
-Eugene (who is Zhenya to me) for writing the book in the first place and—of course, since author/translator love was an ongoing theme at the Congress—for the warmest, closest collegial relationships I could ever imagine, with both him and Tanya.

There are lots of others I should/could have thanked, from the prize’s sponsor, Alfa-Bank, and organizer, the Yeltsin Foundation, to other translators of Laurus that were so much fun (that word again!) to correspond with as I translated, to many, many of you who have done so much for me as I began and then continued translating.

Disclaimers: Last week was a wonderful whirl and I’m still getting caught up on my sleep so apologize for any oddities in this post!

Up Next: Yasnaya Polyana Award short list, Moscow trip report (including a record heavy homeward haul of books), Ludmila Ulitskaya’s Jacob’s Ladder, and Alexander Snegirev’s Vera (Faith).

Photo credit: Thank you to Anatoli Stepanenko, whose photos of literary events make me feel like I’m there. And who was so calming as I awaited the award announcement!


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