The National Book Foundation has established a fifth National Book Award, one for translated works of fiction and nonfiction published in the U.S., it was announced today.
The first iteration of the new award will be presented at the 69th National Book Awards ceremony in New York this November. The decision follows a unanimous vote by the National Book Foundation’s board of directors.
“We could not be more pleased to take this step,” David Steinberger, chairman of the Foundation's board, said in a statement. “We now have the opportunity to recognize exceptional books that are written anywhere in the world, and to encourage new voices and perspectives to become part of our national discourse.”
The National Book Award for Translated Literature will honor both the author and translator (or translators) of the awarded work, and aims, the Foundation said, "to broaden readership for global voices and spark dialogue around international stories." It will join the other four categories—fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people’s literature—as a permanent prize. This is only the second time in a quarter-century that a prize category has been added to the National Book Awards, following the 1996 debut of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.
“As the Foundation further expands its purview and work, it’s important that we continue to promote reading habits that reach widely across genre, subject, and geography,” Lisa Lucas, executive director of the Foundation, said in a statement. “We are a nation of immigrants, and we should never stop seeking connection and insight from the myriad cultures that consistently influence and inspire us. We want American readers to deeply value an inclusive, big-picture point of view, and the National Book Award for Translated Literature is part of a commitment to that principle.”
Submissions for the National Book Award for Translated Literature will open on March 7, at the same time as submissions for all other categories. Both writer and translator must be living at the beginning of the awards cycle to be eligible; neither party is required to be a U.S. citizen. Work previously published in the United States is ineligible; however, new translations of work by living writers are eligible. The original text need not have been published in the year of the award submission.