Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Jáchym Topol’s The Devil’s Workshop Named to BTBA 2014 Longlist

Alex Zucker’s translation of Jáchym Topol’s The Devil’s Workshop, published by Portobello Books, was named yesterday as one of twenty-five titles on the Best Translated Book Award Fiction Longlist. The news was also reported in the Los Angeles Times.

The BTBA is presented each year with great fanfare by Three Percent, the online magazine of Open Letter Books, a nonprofit publisher of international literature at the University of Rochester. Prize money for the award comes from Amazon.

Last fall, Daniel Medin, one of nine judges for the 2014 BTBA for Fiction, described The Devils Workshop as one of “three titles [he] delighted in” while reading books for the prize, writing:
“. . . 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.”

Over the next few weeks, each of the books will be highlighted on the Three Percent blog, and the finalists will be announced on April 15.