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Geoffrey Brock Awarded Joseph Tusiani Italian Translation Prize

We’re excited to share that Archipelago translator Geoffrey Brock has been recognized with the inaugural Joseph Tusiani Translation Prize for his rendering of Giuseppe Ungaretti’s Allegria. Established by the Journal of Italian Translation, the prize honors English-language translations of Italian works which best embody the life and legacy of pioneering translator Joseph Tusiani.

The Committee drew attention to the significance both of Ungaretti’s work and Brock’s translation: “Allegria, never before translated in its entirety, is the central work by one of the two or three greatest Italian poets of the twentieth century. The radical minimalism of its style makes it notoriously difficult to re-create successfully in English. Brock has everywhere met this challenge through a measured and thoughtful recasting of each poem. His English versions capture the essence of Ungaretti’s style and vision, while standing independently as satisfying works of art.”

Brock’s Allegria was also awarded the 2021 National Translation Award in poetry. In addition, Brock is the author of three collections of poems and the editor of the FSG Book of 20th-Century Italian Poetry. His translations of Italo Calvino, Roberto Calasso, Umberto Eco, Umberto Saba, and others have appeared in Poetry, Paris Review, and The New Yorker, and he has received awards and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Academy of American Poets, the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center, and the NEA. He teaches in the MFA program in Creative Writing and Translation at the University of Arkansas.

Archipelago translator Elizabeth Harris was also recognized as a prize finalist for her excellent work translating Andrea Bajani‘s If You Kept a Record of Sins

We’re grateful for the existence of prizes that champion the importance of translators and translated literature, and honored to be recognized as a facilitator of such a mission. Congratulations for this wonderful honor, Geoffrey!

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Archipelago Books featured on Mookse and Gripes podcast!


Archipelago Books is enormously pleased to have been featured on The Mookse and The Gripes podcast! On each episode of the show, co-hosts Trevor Berrett and Paul Wilson have a pleasant conversation about books and reading. On this week’s episode, they talk about Archipelago Books, including some recent releases and old favorites.

Please visit The Mookse and The Gripes podcast here, and also check out The Mookse and The Gripes website, dedicated to reviews of literature and film. We are extremely grateful for their support of the press!

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Kjell Askildsen Recognized by National Magazine Award

We’re honored to share that Stranger’s Guide was recently named a 2022 Fiction finalist for the prestigious National Magazine Award for three stories published last year, including “A Sudden Liberating Thought” written by Archipelago author Kjell Askildsen and translated by Seán Kinsella. Other awardees include work published in Georgia Review, Harper’s Magazine, McSweeney’s Quarterly, and The New Yorker.

Kjell Askildsen, who was born in 1929 and passed away in 2021, is widely recognized as one of the preeminent Norwegian writers of the twentieth century and among the greatest short story authors of all time. He entered the literary scene in 1953 with the collection of short stories From Now on I’ll Take You All the Way Home, which received glittering reviews in the Oslo press, but was banished from the library in his home town, for immorality. It was not until 1987, after the publication of A Sudden Liberating Thought, did he receive critical acclaim. Askildsen has since received numerous literary awards, among them the Norwegian Critics’ Prize (1983 and 1991), the Brage Honorary Prize (1996), the Swedish Academy’s Nordic Prize (2009), and in 1991, he was nominated for the Nordic Council’s Prize for Literature.

In 2021, Archipelago published Askildsen’s Everything Like Beforea luminous collection of stories that captures life as it really is. Its pages feature a man and a woman in a quiet, remote house, an old man on a park bench, an estranged brother in a railway café – characters surrounded by absence. Filled with disquiet, and longing, they walk to a fjord, they smoke, they drink on a veranda, they listen to conversations that drift through open windows. Small flashes like the promise of a sunhat, a nail in a cherry tree, or a raised flag, reveal the interminable space between desire and reality in which Askildsen’s characters are forever suspended.

We again extend our congratulations to Stranger’s Guide, Askildsen’s team, and translator Seán Kinsella.
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Tribute to Lee Fahnestock

Please join us in celebrating the life and achievements of Lee Fahnestock, who passed away earlier this year.

Lee Fahnestock‘s first published translation, The Making of the Pré by Francis Ponge, was published by Indiana University Press in 1979. Since then, Fahnestock wrote and collaborated on many critically acclaimed and widely-read translations, including an enormously successful re-translation of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables and a multi-voliume collection of Jean-Paul Sartre’s letters, edited by Simone de Beauvoir. She served as the president of the American Literary Translators Assocation from 1991 to 1993, and was a longtime member of the PEN Translation Committee. Her translation of Francis Ponge’s Mute Objects of Expression was published by Archipelago Books in 2006. She is survived by three sons and three grandchildren.

Lee was a beloved member of the literary translation community, and a steadfast advocate for translators and literature in translation. She will be dearly missed.

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Ambai wins Sahitya Akademi Award!


We are delighted to announce that Ambai has won the prestigious Sahitya Akademi award!

Established in 1954, the Sahitya Akademi award is an annual prize conferred by the Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters, for the year’s most outstanding original work published in any of more than 20 major languages recognized by the academy. Ambai has won this year’s prize for her story collection, Sivappu Kazhutthudan Oru Patchaiparavai. She is the fourth Tamil woman to receive this award.

C.S. Lakshmi, writing under the pseudonym of Ambai, is a feminist Tamil writer. She was born in 1944 in Tamil Nadu, and grew up in Bangalore and Mumbai. She received her PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University and her stories have been translated into five volumes entitled In a Forest, A Deer, Fish in a Dwindling Lake, A Meeting on the Andheri Overbridge, The Purple Sea, A Night with a Black Spider, and A Kitchen in the Corner of the House (Archipelago Books, 2019). Her writing touches on societal perceptions and the understanding of one’s self, family, sensitivity, and love and its restrictions. Other non-fiction works include The Face Behind the Mask: Women in Tamil Literature (Vikas, New Delhi, 1984), An Idiom of Silence: An Oral History And Pictorial Study of Art, and Consciousness and Women in a series entitled Seven Seas and Seven Mountains.

In 1988, Lakshmi founded SPARROW (Sound and Picture Archives for Research on Women) a non-governmental organization for documenting and archiving the work of female writers and artists. She is currently a member of the University of Michigan’s Global Feminisms Project. She was awarded the Lifetime Literary Achievement Award of Tamil Literary Garden, University of Toronto, in 2008. She lives in Mumbai with her husband, foster daughter and two brothers.

Please join us in congratulating Ambai on adding the Sahitya Akademi award to her long list of literary achievements!



Consider picking up a copy of Ambai’s A Kitchen in the Corner of the House today!

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Archipelago receives 2021 NYSCA Grant!

We’re proud to announce that Archipelago Books has been awarded a generous grant from the New York State Council on the Arts. This critical funding will support Mark Polizzotti’s translation of Scholastique Mukasonga’s new novel, Kibogo.

Archipelago Books is grateful to be among the many vital nonprofits NYSCA is supporting in 2022. (Do visit the NYSCA’s website to learn more about the organizations they’re funding this year.) We thank you, NYSCA!

We rely on grants and the generosity of our community to help us carry out our mission. If you’d like to support Archipelago Books, please make a donation today or email us for details about book sponsorships.

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Remembering Humphrey Davies

We are very sad to share the news that Humphrey Davies has passed away. Renowned for his translations from Arabic by writers including Naguib Mahfouz, Alaa al-Aswany, and Mohamed Mustagab, and for his inspired translation of Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq’s Leg Over Leg, Davies was a spirited advocate for the work of his writers, and an intelligent, playful, and judicious translator. His translations of Elias Khoury’s books, including Gate of the Sun, Yalo, Broken Mirrors, and Children of the Ghetto, introduced English speakers to one of the great literary minds of the last several decades. Davies was also a source of encouragement and solidarity for fellow translators, especially those who were learning the ropes.

As Marcia Lynx Qualey writes in Arab Lit Daily, “In tributes that have begun to appear from grieving friends and colleagues online, there are some who mention his important role in experimental translation, in bringing fun and excitement to Arabic literature — whether classical or contemporary — but also many who remember he was a warm person, a loving friend, companionable, unassuming, welcoming, kind.”

In a New York Times tribute, Nana Asfour writes, “Davies was a key figure in introducing contemporary Middle Eastern writers to an English language audience, rendering their prose into English with crisp and precise translations rich in nuance and sensitivity to the original.” You can access the article through Dropbox here.

We have tremendous gratitude for the work Humphrey Davies contributed to Archipelago Books in recent years. His love of literature and his dedication to translation will continue to shine through his books.

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Review of The Dog of Tithwal in The Wall Street Journal

We are delighted to share that Boyd Tonkin’s wonderful review of Saadat Hasan Manto’s The Dog of Tithwal, translated from the Urdu by Khalid Hasan and Muhammad Umar Memon, was published today in The Wall Street Journal. Tonkin takes care to situate Manto within his cultural moment and examines many inimitable threads of Manto’s profound contribution to literature. You can find the review here, and read an excerpt below:

Despite his renown, it has proved hard for English-language readers to measure Manto’s achievement. Translations have been patchy, although Vintage issued the excellent selection “Bombay Stories” in 2014. This scarcity makes Archipelago’s new collection of 32 stories all the more welcome. Mostly translated by Khalid Hasan and Muhammad Umar Memon, but with four contributions from Aatish Taseer, the volume comes with a preface by Vijay Seshadri that sketches the qualities of Manto’s “firm, precise, and limpid Urdu prose.” His empathy, obliquity and narrative economy invite comparisons with Chekhov. These readable, idiomatic translations have all the agile swiftness and understated poignancy that parallel suggests. But the world they bring to life can be brutal indeed.

Manto’s style encompasses droll fable, mordant satire and grainy realism. “Mummy” itself shows him at his bittersweet best. Set in the Indian city of Pune during World War II, it depicts Manto himself—or, at least, a fictional avatar of the author—as he spends a debauched holiday with movie-business pals: bit-part actors, wannabe directors, screen- struck parasites and fantasists. Through their alcoholic haze drifts the legendary “Mummy”: an Anglo-Indian (mixed-race) woman called Stella Jackson who runs a genteel bordello. Like the movies themselves, Mummy conjures a “simple and beautiful and reassuring” world of pain-free pleasure where her rum- and Scotch-guzzling clients “felt no emotional unease.” Instead, Manto shifts that unease onto the reader. We glimpse the despairing inertia of the men and the peril and confusion of Mummy’s teenage charges. During this story about self-deluding sentimentalism and the harm it spreads, his friend Chadda tipsily toasts “this man called Manto,” who “claims that he can fathom the depths of the human soul.” For Chadda, that’s “a lot of rubbish.” Readers may disagree.

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Paulina Chiziane wins the 2021 Camões Prize


We’re delighted to share that groundbreaking Mozambican writer, Paulina Chiziane, has won this year’s Camões Prize. The Portuguese Culture Minister, Graça Fonseca, announced that “the jury unanimously decided to award the prize to Mozambican writer Paulina Chiziane, highlighting her vast production and critical reception, as well as the academic and institutional recognition of her work.”

The Camões Prize for literature in Portuguese was established by Portugal and Brazil with the purpose of distinguishing an author “whose work contributes to the projection and recognition of the literary and cultural heritage of the common language.” Chiziane is the first African woman to win the Camões prize.

Paulina Chiziane was born in 1955 in an area of Mozambique in which communication with the white colonizers was forbidden. In her mid-twenties she devoted herself to writing and became the first Mozambican woman with a published novel. When handed this title, however, she says she is not a novelist; “I am a storyteller . . . take my inspiration from tales around the campfire, my first art school.” Her works explore themes of race, polygamy, colonization, and cultural change in her country.

In 2016, Archipelago published Chiziane’s The First Wife, translated into English by . For the London Review of Books, Sheila Heti wrote, ” . . . the people who will change Chiziane’s country (or any country) need love stories like The First Wife, which admit that no new freedoms are gained without seemingly pointless suffering . . . Chiziane’s prose alternates between a dramatic, high-octave style . . . and a terse and humorous frankness. She cites the Portuguese poet Florbela Espanca as her most important influence, and there is something similar in the way both writers are able to express the peaks of emotion, while never forgetting the part of the self which evaluates oneself.”

Read more about Paulina Chiziane and the Camões Prize here.

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Allegria wins the 2021 National Translation Award in Poetry


We’re thrilled to share that Geoffrey Brock has won the 2021 National Translation Award in Poetry for his translation of Giuseppe Ungaretti‘s Allegria! The National Translation Award, which is administered by the American Literary Translators Association, is the only national award for translated fiction, poetry, and literary nonfiction that includes a rigorous examination of both the source text and its relation to the finished English work. This year’s judges for poetry are Sinan Antoon, Layla Benitez-James, and Sibelan Forrester.

“I will buy any book of poetry that Brock has translated,” the poet Ilya Kaminsky wrote of Allegria. “It is especially clear here, in the pages of Allegria, where the shortish lines test the translator’s ability to deliver nuance with light touch, precision, and almost Mozartian grace . . . This book will give you ‘a momentary stay against confusion.’ It is a beautiful gift.”

The jury wrote, “Ungaretti’s first book-length collection of poems appeared almost a century ago. It transformed modern Italian poetry and announced the arrival of a unique voice in world poetry . . . The slender poems celebrate life, inflecting its light, memory, and mystery, and seizing the eternal from the seemingly ephemeral in vivid and striking imagery. This elegant translation preserves Ungaretti’s economy and his pursuit of poetic purity.”

Famed for his brevity, Giuseppe Ungaretti’s early poems swing nimbly from the coarse matter of tram wires, alleyways, quails in bushes, and hotel landladies to the mystic shiver of pure abstraction. These are the kinds of poems that, through their numinous clarity and shifting intimations, can make a poetry-lover of the most stone-faced non-believer. Ungaretti won multiple prizes for his poetry, including the 1970 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. He was a major proponent of the Hermetic style, which proposed a poetry in which the sounds of words were of equal import to their meanings. This auditory awareness echoes through Brock’s hair-raising translations, where a man holding vigil with his dead, open-mouthed comrade, says, “I have never felt / so fastened / to life.”

Geoffrey Brock is the author of three books of poems, the editor of The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Italian Poetry, and the translator of numerous books of prose, poetry, and comics, most recently Last Dream by Giovanni Pascoli (World Poetry Books, 2019) and Allegria by Giuseppe Ungaretti (Archipelago, 2020). His awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Academy of American Poets, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. He teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Translation at the University of Arkansas, where he founded The Arkansas International.

You can find more information about the ALTA and Brock’s award here.