Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Jáchym Topol’s The Devil’s Workshop Contender for Best Translated Book Award

Alex Zucker’s translation of Jáchym Topol’s The Devil’s Workshop, published by Portobello Books, is in the running for the Best Translated Book Award, presented each year by Three Percent, the online magazine of Open Letter Books, a nonprofit publisher of international literature at the University of Rochester.

Daniel Medin, one of nine judges for the 2014 BTBA for Fiction, posted contenders for his shortlist yesterday on the Three Percent blog, naming The Devils Workshop as one of “three titles [he] delighted in.” (The other two were Ottilie Mulzet’s translation of László Krasznahorkai’s Seiobo There Below and Ina Rilke’s translation of Hella Haasse’s The Black Lake.)

Medin wrote in his post:
“. . . in the novel’s second part, the humor grows corrosive. When Czech authorities finally shut down Lebo’s commune, the narrator flees to Belarus where he has been recruited as an expert on ‘revitalization of burial sites’. The remainder of The Devil’s Workshop comprises a surreal descent into that country’s lethal past. Topol’s narrative here is defiantly unrealistic, and many developments are intentionally improbable. But their essence remains authentic. In fact, it is these phantasmagoric passages that allow Topol to pilot the reader through treacherous historical terrain without resorting to customary pieties.”

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