Anthology celebrates literary translators’ work from 19 languages

The inaugural volume of Best Literary Translations 2024, which showcases the exceptional work of 38 translators who have brought forth poetry, short fiction and essays from 19 languages into English, hit shelves on April 9. 

This anthology is the first of its kind in the United States. 

Among the languages represented are Burmese, Kurdish, Tigrinya and Wayuu, offering readers a diverse and enriching literary experience.

Selected by esteemed poet and translator Jane Hirshfield, it features 33 works carefully chosen from over 500 nominations published in US literary journals during 2022. Hirshfield aptly describes each translated piece as a testament to both preservation and cross-pollination, where the essence of the original work transcends linguistic barriers to create a new, hybrid experience for readers.

Accompanied by insights from the translators themselves, Best Literary Translations 2024 celebrates the collaborative efforts of writers, translators and editors who make these literary exchanges possible. As the anthology prepares for release events across the country, including both in-person and virtual celebrations, it signals a vibrant future for the appreciation of translated literature in the United States.

Best Literary Translations is a new annual featuring the year’s best poetry, short fiction, and essay, drawn from U.S.-affiliated literary journals and magazines. Best Literary Translations 2024, the anthology’s inaugural volume, features both contemporary and historical poetry and prose originally written in 19 languages – including some not commonly seen in U.S. translations, such as Burmese, Kurdish, Tigrinya and Wayuu – brought into English by 38 of the most talented translators working today. These poems, short stories, essays, and hybrid works were drawn from more than 500 nominated works published in U.S. literary journals during 2022, spanning more than 80 countries and nearly 60 languages.

The four series co editors, Noh Anothai, Wendy Call, Öykü Tekten and Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún, selected the finalists; the 33 works appearing in the anthology were chosen by the 2024 guest editor: noted poet, essayist, and translator Jane Hirshfield. She writes in her introduction to the anthology: “Each work in this book is a small act of both preservation and cross-pollination—each writer’s vision, sensibility and concerns are, as the word ‘translation’ holds at its root, carried across. In those moments of carrying, a conjoining occurs. Both receiver and text live afterward changed; some new hybrid of experience, language, and understanding comes into being.

”Each literary work is accompanied by a short note from the translator/s, sharing their translation process or other details of how the translation came into being. As contributing translator Izidora Angel writes in the note accompanying her short story translation,

“Before…being included in anthologies such as this one, it was the journals and their editors…who gave the stories a chance. Thank you. It takes a village, truly.” 

The 2025 edition will be guest edited by poet, novelist, essayist and translator Cristina Rivera Garza.

Release events for Best Literary Translations 2024, published by Deep Vellum, are planned for through April, May and June 2024.

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