Nominees for Abolhassan Najafi Award unveiled

January 12, 2022 - 18:33

TEHRAN – Persian translations of eight novels from the world’s literature are contending for the Abolhassan Najafi Award.

The Abolhassan Najafi Award Foundation announced nominees for the fifth edition of the translation prize on Tuesday.

One of the nominees is French writer Oscar Coop-Phane’s “The Pig’s Trial” translated by Abolfazl Allahdadi.

Somewhere in the distant past, a creature wanders out of the woods into a sunny garden, and finds a sleeping infant left unattended in a wicker basket. On impulse, the creature chews off the baby’s tender cheeks and shoulder. The child dies and the killer is caught and brought to trial. But how can a pig—for pig it is!—face up to the law of men?

The translation by Babak Shahab from “We”, a dystopian novel by Russian writer Yevgeny Zamyatin, is also among the nominees.

The story of the novel is set in the twenty-sixth century AD in a glass-enclosed city of absolute straight lines, ruled over by the all-powerful “Benefactor”, in which the citizens of the totalitarian society of OneState live out lives devoid of passion and creativity - until D-503, a mathematician who dreams in numbers, makes a discovery: he has an individual soul.

Farzaneh Doosti’s translation from “The Awakening” by American writer Kate Chopin is also competing for the award.

Set in New Orleans and on the Louisiana Gulf coast at the end of the 19th century, the plot centers on Edna Pontellier and her struggle between her increasingly unorthodox views on femininity and motherhood with the prevailing social attitudes of the turn-of-the-century American South.

“My Crazy Century: A Memoir” by Czech writer Ivan Klima is another nominee. It has been rendered into Persian by Forugh Puryavari.

In this intimate autobiography spanning six decades that included war, totalitarianism, censorship and the fight for democracy, Klima reflects back on his remarkable life and this critical period of twentieth-century history.

Chester Himes’s “A Rage in Harlem” translated by Mazdak Boluri is among the nominees.

It is a ripping introduction to Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones, patrolling New York City’s roughest streets in Himes’s groundbreaking Harlem Detectives series.

“The Funeral Party” by Russian novelist Lyudmila Ulitskaya has also been picked to contend for the award.

Translated by Yalda Bidokhtinejad, the story is set in a small apartment in New York, in the sweltering mid-summer heat, in which a group of Russian émigrés gather around the sickbed of Alik, an artist who is dying.

French author Laurent Binet’s debut novel “HHhH” has also been nominated.

Rendered into Persian by Ahmad Parhizi, the book recounts Operation Anthropoid, the assassination of Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich in Prague during World War II.

The selecting team also picked the memoir of Stefan Zweig, “The World of Yesterday” translated by Mahshid Mirmoezzi. The Austrian writer mailed the manuscript to his publisher a few days before he took his life in 1942. 

A jury composed of Abdollah Kowsari, Abtin Golkar, Zia Movahhed, Mahasti Bahreini, Omid Tabibzadeh, Hossein Masumi Hamedani, Musa Asvar and Abolfazl Horri will award the winner in a ceremony that will be organized at the Book City Institute on a date to be announced later.

The Abolhassan Najafi Award is a private Iranian literary prize that is given to a Persian translator of a novel or short story collection every year.

The award was established in the name of Abolhassan Najafi (1930-2016), the linguist and translator of French literature, by his family and the Book City Institute in 2016.

Photo: This combination photo shows the front covers of the nominees for the Abolhassan Najafi Award.