Eight Persian translators contending for Abolhassan Najafi Award

January 4, 2021 - 18:33

TEHRAN – Eight translators are contending for the Abolhassan Najafi Award as the organizers of the 4th edition of the prize have announced the nominees on Sunday.

The award was established in the name of Abolhassan Najafi (1930-2016), the linguist and translator of French literature, by his family members and the Book City Institute in 2016, and is given to the best translation of a novel every year.

Ali-Asghar Haddad received a nomination for his translation of Austrian writer Josef Winkler’s 1998 novel “When the Time Comes”.

The story of the book is set in the years before the Second World War, when a man throws a statue of the crucified Christ over a waterfall. Later, in Hitler’s trenches, he loses his arms to an enemy grenade. 

Another nominee is Sepas Reivandi, who was nominated for his rendition of “If This Is a Man”, a memoir by Italian Jewish writer Primo Levi.

The book first published in 1947 describes his arrest as a member of the Italian anti-fascist resistance during the Second World War, and his incarceration in the Auschwitz concentration camp (Monowitz) from February 1944 until the camp was liberated on 27 January 1945.

Farzaneh Taheri is contending for the award with her work on “Petersburg” by Russian writer Andrei Bely. It is a symbolist work that arguably foreshadows James Joyce’s modernist ambitions.

First published in 1913, the novel received little attention and was not translated into English until 1959 by John Cournos. Today the book is generally considered Bely’s masterpiece.

Nushin Tayyebi is competing for the award with American author Anthony Doerr’s war novel “All the Light We Cannot See” published in May 2014.

Set in occupied France during World War II, the novel centers on a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths eventually cross.

It won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.

Mohammadreza Torktataari has been nominated for his work on “The Master of Petersburg”, a 1994 novel by South African writer J. M. Coetzee.

The novel is a work of fiction but features the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky as its protagonist. It is a deep, complex work that draws on the life of Dostoyevsky, the life of the author and the history of Russia to produce profoundly disturbing results. It won the 1995 Irish Times International Fiction Prize. 

Mahmud Gudarzi is also among the nominees. He received the nomination for “The Story of the Chevalier des Grieux and Manon Lescaut” by French novelist Antoine François Prévost.

Published in 1731, it is the seventh and final volume of “Memoirs and Adventures of a Man of Quality”.

The story, set in France and Louisiana in the early 18th century, follows the hero, the Chevalier des Grieux, and his lover, Manon Lescaut.

Controversial in its time, the work was banned in France upon publication. Despite this, it became very popular and pirated editions were widely distributed.

Mohammadreza Parsayar received a nomination for the translation of “Reveries of the Solitary Walker”, an unfinished book by Genevan philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau written between 1776 and 1778.

It was the last of a number of works composed toward the end of his life that were deeply autobiographical in nature.

Mohammad Nejabati is also competing for the award with his rendition of French writer Jules Verne’s classic science fiction adventure novel “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas: A World Tour Underwater”.

The novel was originally serialized from March 1869 through June 1870 in Pierre-Jules Hetzel’s fortnightly periodical, the Magasin d’éducation et de récréation.

Its depiction of Captain Nemo’s underwater ship, the Nautilus, is regarded as ahead of its time, since it accurately describes many features of today’s submarines, which in the 1860s were comparatively primitive vessels. 

The nominees have been selected by a jury composed of Abtin Golkar, Zia Movahhed, Mahasti Bahreini, Abdollah Kowsari, Hossein Masumi Hamedani, Musa Asvar and Abolfazl Horri.

The winner will be announced today at the Book City Institute during a special ceremony with a limited number of guests.

Photo: A combination photo shows front covers of the books translated by the nominees of the 4th Abolhassan Najafi Award.