The Transmigration of Bodies

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2018 International DUBLIN Literary Award Shortlist

The 23rd Annual International DUBLIN Literary Award, which is given to a novel written in English or translated into English, announced their 2018 Shortlist. Sponsored by Dublin City Council and Dublin’s municipal government, the award is administered by Dublin City Public Libraries with nominations being submitted by “library systems in major cities throughout the world.”

Here is the 2018 shortlist:

Baba Dunja’s Last Love by Alina Bronsky (Translated from the German by Tim Mohr)
The Transmigration of Bodies by Yuri Herrera (Translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman)
The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen (Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw)
Human Acts by Han Kang (Translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith)
The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride
Solar Bones by Mike McCormack
Distant Light by Antonio Moresco (Translated from the Italian by Richard Dixon)
Ladivine by Marie Ndiaye (Translated from the French by Jordan Stump)
The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

The winner of the 2018 International DUBLIN Literary Award will be announced on June 13th.

A Year in Reading: Kima Jones

I’ve been making lists since my father died in September. Lists of the things I need to do, lists of the things I need to finish, lists of business expenditures, lists for tax-season preparedness.  When my father was dying in the hospital I read poems to him. The breathing tube prevented him from speaking to me, but he would move his head from side to side or groan or widen his eyes to let me know he was cued into the recitation. Sometimes I wanted to be sure he really liked what I was reading so I would ask, “That was a good one, wasn’t it?” That’s when he would smile. We read the Quran, and we read poetry, which is to say, I watched my father die for two weeks and for two weeks I read poems.

I read other books this year. I devoured Louise Erdrich’s LaRose, Victor LaValle’s The Changeling, Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing, Brian Evenson’s A Collapse of Horses, Renee Simms’s Meet Behind Mars, Yuri Herrera’s The Transmigration, Kathleen Collins’s Whatever Happened to Interracial Love, Claude McKay’s Amiable with Big Teeth, Lesley Nneka Arimah’s What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, Tyehimba Jess’s Olio, Natalie Graham’s Begin with a Failed Body, and Valeria Luiselli’s Tell Me How It  Ends. That’s one list. A list.

Then there are the poems I read. They are not many. I read them to my father, and I read them for myself. I read them for strength. I read them because I have faith.

1. Ntozake Shange’s “my father is a retired magician”

In the shower I’d say the few lines I have memorized to myself. It was a kind of affirmation. Maybe the poem was just stuck there, in my head, but saying the words made me feel like my father would never die.
i mean
this is blk magic
you lookin at
& i’m fixin you up good/ fixin you up good n colored
& you gonna be colored all yr life
& you gonna love it/ bein colored/ all yr life/ colored & love it
love it/ bein colored/
2. Surah 93: Ad-Duha (The Daylight, or The Dawn, or The Glorious Morning Light)

This is my favorite surah of the Quran. I get up before fajr and think about my father. I never sleep anymore. I watch the sun come up, I listen to Aretha Franklin’s Rare and Unreleased Recordings. “Fool on the Hill” is a perfect track. I love the way she fades into the last verse of the song. “The fool on the hill/ Sees the sun going down/ And the eyes in his head/ See the world spinning around.”

I think about being an orphan. This new world where this is no father for me.

3. “These Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden

My father loved this poem. “What did I know, what/ did I know/ of love’s austere and lonely offices?”

Muslims do not bury their dead in caskets, we do not have wakes or memorials, there are no headstones. We use flat grass markers, a white shroud, oils. We pray, and we leave. I wore a red dress with pink flowers. They were the only flowers there. Muslims don’t bother with adornment.

4. Li-Young Lee’s “Eating Alone”

Like Lee, I see my father everywhere. In paintings, in books, when I slice fruit, little black kittens, fat tabby cats, at Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibit, in Arizona reading a Terrance Hayes poem dedicated to Ai. Sometimes when I am hurting, after I’ve cried, I say, “Oh, Hamzah.” I want him to know I’m getting his messages. I want him to know I see.

5. “38” by Layli Long Soldier

The first poem I read after my father died. Evidence that the world continues to turn, but I do not.

More from A Year in Reading 2017

Do you love Year in Reading and the amazing books and arts content that The Millions produces year round? We are asking readers for support to ensure that The Millions can stay vibrant for years to come. Please click here to learn about several simple ways you can support The Millions now.

Don’t miss: A Year in Reading 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005

A Year in Reading: Lilliam Rivera

If I’m not reading at least two books at a time I’m failing somehow. And yet, my to-read pile this year never seemed to dwindle. There’s no real strategy to what I will read. I’m not a snob about it. I’ll read everything from speculative fiction to young adult to poetry. When a book I’m reading strikes a chord, I feel it so violently that I want to throw the book across the room. The selections below are just a sample of what moved me to extreme emotions this year:

The Transmigration of Bodies by Yuri Herrera

When I finished reading this slim novel, I immediately wanted to read it again. Then, I wanted to read it in its original Spanish and locate all of Herrera’s works. The Transmigration of Bodies is bleak, hilarious, and so full of grit. Herrera is one of Mexico’s most exiting novelists and I eagerly await his next.

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

“We went wild that hot night. We howled, we raged, we screamed.” The first two lines of this young adult novel pulled me right in. The Walls Around Us is a ghost tale with prose so beautiful and images so visceral I wanted to protect the young girls from the pain depicted on the pages.

Certain Dark Things: A Novel by Silvia Moreno Herrera

How do you subvert the vampire story? You set it in Mexico City and replace the stereotypical bloodsuckers with feuding families of vampire narcos. This is an exciting new world of gangster vampires that’s full of suspense and emotion.

Kendra by Coe Booth

I love flawed characters that make questionable decisions. Kendra is such a character, a 14-year-old who desperately wants to connect with her very young mother. Sexuality is handled with brutal honesty in this young adult novel. Booth also depicts the Bronx, New York, my hometown, with such love and authenticity.

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

This book came with me on my vacation to Hawaii. The island was the perfect setting to get lost in Chee’s lush world. Every single detail transported me to 19th-century France with its lavish costumes and baroque drama.

In between novels, I usually turn to poetry. These collections sit by my nightstand. Right before I go to sleep, I randomly open a page and read with the hope that the images evoked by these poets will seep into my dreams.

Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia De Burgos

Burgos is one of the most important Puerto Rican poets. Her work is revolutionary. She has such a strong influence on me that her writing makes an appearance in my young adult novel, The Education of Margot Sanchez.

Reliquaria by R.A. Villanueva

Villanueva’s poems seem like prayers, calling out to the past. I’m also attracted to how he plays with Catholicism and its colonial nature in language.

Our Lady of the Crossword by Rigoberto González

González has such a way with words. His poetry is packed with sexuality and culture. The chapbook is also small enough for my purse and travels with me.

More from A Year in Reading 2016

Do you love Year in Reading and the amazing books and arts content that The Millions produces year round? We are asking readers for support to ensure that The Millions can stay vibrant for years to come. Please click here to learn about several simple ways you can support The Millions now.

Don’t miss: A Year in Reading 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005

And the Winners of the Best Translated Book Awards Are…

Announced simultaneously here and at The Folly in New York City, the winners for this year’s Best Translated Book Awards are Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World, translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman, for fiction, and Angélica Freitas’s Rilke Shake, translated from the Portuguese by Hilary Kaplan, for poetry.

This is the ninth iteration of the BTBA and the fifth in which the four winning authors and translators will receive $5,000 cash prizes thanks to funding from the Amazon Literary Partnership program.

With Rilke Shake taking home the poetry award, Phoneme Media becomes the first press to win for poetry in back-to-back years. (Diorama by Rocío Cerón, translated from the Spanish by Anna Rosenwong, won last year). Hilary Kaplan also received a PEN/Heim Translation Award to work on this collection.

According to Tess Lewis, BTBA judge and author of the “Why This Book Should Win” piece at Three Percent, “[Kaplan] has done the grant and Freitas’s poems justice, capturing the many shifts in tone in and between the lines, from playful to wry to sardonic to pathetic, even sentimental, to deadpan and back to playful, sometimes within a single poem. For all of Freitas’s lyric clowning, it’s clear she takes poetry too seriously not to dismantle it and use it to her own purposes.”

Yuri Herrera is the first Spanish-language writer to win the award for fiction. According to “Why This Book Should Win” piece by bookseller (and former BTBA judge) Stephen Sparks, “Signs Preceding the End of the World tells the story of a young switchboard operator’s harrowing attempt to cross a border between worlds — Mexico and the United States, but also between reality and myth, between the living and the dead, between any here and distant there — in search of her brother, who like uncountable others before him has gone north to seek out a better life.”

Lisa Dillman has translated almost a dozen books over the past few years, including works by Andrés Barba and Eduardo Halfon, and teaches Spanish at Emory College. Her translation of Herrera’s next novel, The Transmigration of Bodies (also published by And Other Stories), comes out in July.

Next week during BookExpo America, 57th Street Books in Chicago will be hosting a BTBA party from 5 to – 6:30 pm at the store. The event — which will feature a number of BTBA judges — is free and open to the public.

As always, the judges deserve a round of congratulations for all their hard work, reading dozens of titles and choosing these worthy books. This year’s fiction jury is made up of: Amanda Bullock (Literary Arts, Portland), Heather Cleary, translator from the Spanish, co-founder of the Buenos Aires Review), Kevin Elliott (57th Street Books), Kate Garber (192 Books), Jason Grunebaum (translator, writer), Mark Haber (writer, Brazos Bookstore), Stacey Knecht (translator), Amanda Nelson (Book Riot), and P.T. Smith (writer and reader).

And this year’s poetry jury is made up of: Jarrod Annis (Greenlight Bookstore), Katrine Øgaard Jensen (Council for European Studies), Tess Lewis (writer and translator), Becka McKay (writer, translator), and Deborah Smith (writer, translator, founder of Tilted Axis).

For more information, visit the official Best Translated Book Award site and the official BTBA Facebook page, and follow the award on Twitter.


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