10th Anniversary of French Voices Award
On Monday, February 29, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy will host the 10th annual French Voices Award Ceremony, which honors translators and American publishers working to bring the best contemporary French writing to US audiences. Created by the French Embassy and FACE Foundation, the French Voices Award reflects the institutions’ commitment to translation and independent publishing.
In 2015, thirteen titles were chosen to receive the French Voices Award by an independent committee and translation experts. Twelve of the books will receive a French Voices Award of $6,000, to be shared by the publishers and translators. The 2015 French Voices Grand Prize of $10,000 will go to Alain Mabanckou’s memoir, The Lights of Pointe Noire.
In The Lights of Pointe Noire, Mabanckou—who left Congo in 1989 not to return until a quarter of a century later—builds a stirring exploration of the way home never leaves us. When the author came home to Pointe-Noire, a bustling port town on Congo's south-eastern coast, he found a country that in some ways had changed beyond recognition, while many things remained untouched and realized he can only look on as an outsider at the place where he grew up.
The French-Congolese writer, and 2015 Man Booker International Prize finalist, is one of the most widely read and discussed African writers today. Originally published in French by Le Seuil in 2013 as Lumières de Pointe-Noire, Mabanckou's memoir will be released by The New Press on March 1st in a translation by Helen Stevenson.
A literary translator, Helen Stevenson has translated works by Marie Darrieussecq, Antoine Bello, Alice Ferney, Catherine Millet and Alain Mabanckou. Stevenson's own memoir, Love Like Salt, will be published by Virago on March 3rd.
Mabanckou has stated that "to be a francophone writer is to benefit from the legacy of French literature, but it’s above all to bring your own voice to a broader culture, one that shatters boundaries" adding that with time “we will no longer come from a country, or a continent, but from a language." Thomas Michelon, Deputy Cultural Counselor, remarks that with over 275 million French speakers on all continents, it’s fair to say that, “French is in fact one and many languages at once. With works by Fiston Mwanza Mujila, Annie Ernaux, Scholastique Mukasonga, Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Julia Kristeva, Luc Boltanski and Zeina Abirached published in the French Voices Collection the award is proving just that."
2015 French Voices Award Winners
- Les Lumières de Pointe-Noire/The Lights of Pointe-Noire by Alain Mabanckou, transl. Helen Stevenson, The New Press, 2016
- Le Crieur de nuit by Nelly Alard, transl. Grace McQuillan; seeking an American publisher
- Travesti by David Dumortier, transl. Ava Lehrer; seeking an American publisher
- Réparateur de Destin by Cyrille Fleischman, transl. Lynn E. Palermo and Catherine Zobal Dent; seeking an American publisher
- Roland Barthes by Tiphaine Samoyault, transl. Andrew Brown; Polity Press, January 2017
- Jean Renoir by Pascal Mérigeau, transl. Bruce Benderson; Running Press, May 2016.
- Lettre à Zohra D. by Danielle Michel-Chich, transl. Lara Vergnaud; seeking an American publisher
- Puissance de la douceur by Anne Dufourmantelle, transl. Katherine Payne; Fordham University Press, April 2016
- Traduire comme Transhumer, by Mireille Gansel, transl. Ros Schwartz; seeking an American publisher
- Deleuze, les mouvements aberrants/Aberrant Movements: the Philosophy of Gilles Deleuze by David Lapoujade, transl. Joshua David Jordan; Semiotext(e)
- Nous sommes tous des cannibales/We are all Cannibals by Claude Lévi-Strauss, transl. Jane-Marie Todd; Columbia University Press, March 2016.
- L'Autre Portrait/Portrait by Jean-Luc Nancy, transl. Sarah Clift, Fordham University Press
- Bain de lune by Yannick Lahens, transl. Emily Gogolak; seeking an American publisher
All of the 2015 French Voices Awards titles will be available at Albertine Books in French and English, the only French reading room and bookshop in New York.
The French Voices program was created in 2006 by the French Cultural Services and PEN American Center to support translations from French to English and to encourage the publication of French titles in the U.S. Since its inception, the program has helped the translation and publication of 105 French titles. Several French Voices grantees have become best-sellers, such as Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog (2008), which sold over 900,000 copies, André Comte-Sponville’s The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality (2008), and Pierre Bayard’s How to Talk about Books You Haven’t Read (2009).
The full list 2006-2014 is available at: http://face-foundation.org/french-voices/previous-grantees.html. The program is supported by the Florence Gould Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.