Remember that "spellbinding and weirdly addictive" book I was telling you about last month? The one that got Katrina Dodson and me talking about how much time she spent thinking about translating the Portuguese word "galinha" as "chicken" rather than "hen?"
Well, that book—Clarice Lispector's The Complete Stories— just won the prestigious PEN Translation Prize for this year. Despite some stiff competition—namely Oliver Ready's translation of Crime and Punishment and Jamey Gambrell's translation of Georgi Gospodinov's The Physics of Sorrow—the judges unanimously decided on Dodson's translation of the stories of one of Brazil's most brilliant and beguiling writers. Here's what the judges had to say:
The Complete Stories are diverse in tone, mood, perspective, subject matter, and quirk, and Dodson's dexterity in navigating these differences, while simultaneously lending Lispector a singular English voice all her own, is a thoroughly impressive feat of literary translation. Benjamin Moser’s insightful introduction and Dodson’s translator’s afterword situate the book within the contemporary resurgence of Lispector translations and accentuate the radical imagination of Dodson’s work.
When I talked to Dodson back in January, she told me that she nearly lost her mind making the million tiny decisions that translators have to make: "One night, around 3 a.m., I found myself watching a makeup tutorial by a Brazilian teenager with a hick accent on YouTube because I was trying to figure out something about eyebrows or eye shadow, and the whole thing seemed so absurd, I started laughing out loud and nearly fell off my chair." This win means those late night YouTube seshes paid off.
We're looking down the barrel of a long week of rain, Seattle, so now would be a good time to tuck into Lispector's The Complete Stories. Read "Pig Latin," "The Egg and the Chicken," and "Forgiving God." Then read everything else.