NATIONAL BOOK FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR TRANSLATED LITERATURE

2017 National Book Awards Statues
2017 National Book Awards statues. Photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan

National Book Foundation Board votes unanimously to establish a fifth National Book Award
for translated works of fiction and nonfiction published in the U.S.


The National Book Foundation today announced it will present the National Book Award for Translated Literature, beginning this year at the 69th National Book Awards in November. This prize, which represents a fifth National Book Award category, will honor a work of fiction or nonfiction that has been translated into English and published in the U.S.

“We could not be more pleased to take this step. We now have the opportunity to recognize exceptional books that are written anywhere in the world, and to encourage new voices and perspectives to become part of our national discourse.”

—David Steinberger, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation

Because of its strategic significance, the addition of a new award category required a unanimous vote by the National Book Foundation’s Board of Directors. “We could not be more pleased to take this step,” said David Steinberger, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation. “We now have the opportunity to recognize exceptional books that are written anywhere in the world, and to encourage new voices and perspectives to become part of our national discourse.”

The National Book Award for Translated Literature will honor both author and translator, and aims to broaden readership for global voices and spark dialogue around international stories. The inaugural National Book Award for Translated Literature will be presented at the 69th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner, and will join the other four categories (Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Young People’s Literature) as a permanent prize.

“As the Foundation further expands its purview and work, it’s important that we continue to promote reading habits that reach widely across genre, subject, and geography,” said Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation. “We are a nation of immigrants, and we should never stop seeking connection and insight from the myriad cultures that consistently influence and inspire us. We want American readers to deeply value an inclusive, big-picture point of view, and the National Book Award for Translated Literature is part of a commitment to that principle. The addition of this award lends crucial visibility to works that have the power to touch us as American readers in search of broadened perspective.”

“We are a nation of immigrants, and we should never stop seeking connection and insight from the myriad cultures that consistently influence and inspire us.”

—Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation.

The last time a prize category was added to the National Book Awards was 1996, when the first National Book Award for Young People’s Literature was won by Victor Martinez for his novel Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida.

Submissions for the National Book Award for Translated Literature will open at the same time as submissions for all other categories, March 7. Consistent with the guidelines for all entries, both writer and translator must be living at the beginning of the awards cycle to be eligible, though neither party is required to be a U.S. citizen. Work previously published in the United States is ineligible, however new translations of work by living writers are eligible. The original text need not have been published in the year of the award submission.

The National Book Awards Longlists will be announced the week of September 10, and Finalists on October 10. Winners will be announced at the invitation-only National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner on November 14 in New York City. Each Finalist receives a prize of $1,000, a medal, and a judges’ citation.  Each Winner receives $10,000 and a bronze sculpture. These prizes will be the same for the National Book Award for Translated Literature, with the monetary prize split evenly between the author and translator.

The establishment of the new award aligns with the National Book Foundation’s recently adopted strategic plan and new mission statement to celebrate the best literature in America, expand its audience, and ensure that books have a prominent place in American culture. Guidelines for submission for the National Book Award for Translated Literature will be available in full at the National Book Foundation website as of March 7.