First US Anthology Celebrates Literary Translators’ Work from Nineteen Languages

April 9, 2024

The cover to Best Literary Translations 2024The first US anthology celebrating the breadth of literary translators’ work debuts today (April 9, 2024). Best Literary Translations is a new annual featuring the year’s best poetry, short fiction, and essays, drawn from US-affiliated literary journals and magazines.

Best Literary Translations 2024, the anthology’s inaugural volume, features both contemporary and historical poetry and prose originally written in nineteen languages—including some not commonly seen in US translations, such as Burmese, Kurdish, Tigrinya, and Wayuu—brought into English by thirty-eight of the most talented translators working today. These poems, short stories, essays, and hybrid works were drawn from more than five hundred nominated works published in US literary journals during 2022, spanning more than eighty countries and nearly sixty languages.

WLT is proud that Cynthia Steele’s translation of two Mapuche-Huilliche poems by Jaime Huenún Villa was chosen for inclusion. Two other pieces by Anastasia Afanasieva, translated by Ilya Kaminsky and Katie Farris, as well as Rashi Rohatgi’s translation of an excerpt by Abhimanyu Unnuth were longlisted.

The four series coeditors—Noh Anothai, Wendy Call, Öykü Tekten, and Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún—selected the finalists; the thirty-three works appearing in the anthology were chosen by the 2024 guest editor: noted poet, essayist, and translator Jane Hirshfield. She writes in her introduction to the anthology: “Each work in this book is a small act of both preservation and cross-pollination—each writer’s vision, sensibility, and concerns are, as the word ‘translation’ holds at its root, carried across. In those moments of carrying, a conjoining occurs. Both receiver and text live afterward changed; some new hybrid of experience, language, and understanding comes into being.”

Each literary work is accompanied by a short note from the translator/s, sharing their translation process or other details of how the translation came into being. As contributing translator Izidora Angel writes in the note accompanying her short-story translation, “Before … being included in anthologies such as this one, it was the journals and their editors … who gave the stories a chance. Thank you. It takes a village, truly.” The 2025 edition will be guest-edited by poet, novelist, essayist and translator Cristina Rivera Garza.

Release events for Best Literary Translations 2024, published by Deep Vellum, are planned for several cities during April and May 2024. Please see the Deep Vellum website for locations, dates, and times. Review copies are available for bookstores, media, and reviewers.