Three Percent, the University of Rochester's international literature program, announced late last week the winners of the five-thousand-dollar Best Translated Book Awards in poetry and fiction. Brian Henry's translation of Slovenian poet Aleš Šteger's collection The Book of Things (BOA Editions) won in poetry and Thomas Teal was honored in fiction for his translation from the Swedish of late Finnish author Tove Jansson's novel The True Deceiver (New York Review Books).
Thirty-seven-year-old Šteger is the author of three other volumes of poetry, but The Book of Things is his first to be translated into English. Poetry judge Kevin Prufer said of Šteger, "His objects reflect our own strange complexities—our eagerness to consume, our rationalizations and kindness. Our many cruelties and our grandiosities." Prufer was joined on the jury by Brandon Holmquest, Jennifer Kronovet, Erica Mena, and Idra Novey.
Jansson, perhaps best known for her Moomins, a cast of fantastical characters she created over a half-century through comic strips and children's books, began writing for adults in later life. Among her novels translated into English are The Summer Book and Fair Play, published by New York Review Books. Jansson died in 2001.
The fiction panel, comprised of Monica Carter, Scott Esposito, Susan Harris, Annie Janusch, Matthew Jakubowski, Brandon Kennedy, Bill Marx, Michael Orthofer, and Jeff Waxman said of Jansson's winning book, "Subtle, engaging and disquieting, The True Deceiver is a masterful study in opposition and confrontation."
The awards were announced at New York City's Bowery Poetry Club in conjunction with the PEN World Voices Festival, which closed last Sunday.
To get a sense of Jansson's sources of inspiration, check out the video below, which offers a tour of the author's longtime summer home on an idyllic shoreline near Helsinki.