Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence


BTBA, sorely missing

I was disappointed but not surprised that the Best Translated Book Award remains in abeyance, the announcement buried in Chad Post's 3% update:
When we put [the BTBA] on hiatus in 2020, it totally made sense. The world was ending! Everything was on fire! But now, three years later, the world is still on fire (maybe even more so), and we haven’t done a single thing.
There are two-three issues at play here. First off, the funding from Amazon dropped over the past few years, and without any other organization/angel donor to step in . . . well, reducing the prize money is a step in the wrong direction.
Secondly, the time required to coordinate fourteen judges, accept and log over six hundred submissions, and properly promote all the longlist/shortlist/winners is a lot. (Time is the villain of this post.)
Finally, I want it to be different from the National Book Award for Translated Literature and the Man Booker International. But how? What is the rationale? What makes it interesting?
If you have ideas and ambition and desire, hit me up. (Preferably by text. I’m embracing my worst email habits at this time.)
I share Chad's predilection for "pro-experimental weird literature", and the long and the short of the BTBA lists were an unparalleled resource for finding it (although moreso in its earlier years). Part of the genius of its structure was the inclusion of independent booksellers (along with translators) as judges, however much their incentives might misalign (not so evident to me as Chad makes out, given the interdependence of indie bookstores and indie presses, but he's earned the right to complain, though how such serves to reboot the award is a bit of a mys[t]ery). And BTBA's continuance, however much to be desired, is of less moment than Chad's involvement in keeping Dalkey Archive afloat. Meanwhile, he's had a sliver of time to update the Translation Database ...