Congratulations to And Other Stories’ own Nichola Smalley, who is not only our brilliant UK publicity director, but an award-winning translator as well! Her English translation of Andrzej Tichý‘s novel Wretchedness has just been awarded the 2021 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize, an honor it receives after appearing on the International Booker Prize longlist this spring.
You can hear Nichola Smalley read from Wretchedness and speak about her translation process, as well as why she loves the novel, for Oxford Translation Day on Youtube.
In awarding Nichola Smalley the prize, the judges said:
The first of Andrzej Tichý’s novels to be translated from Swedish into English, Wretchedness begins with an encounter between a cellist and a homeless man who approaches him for money and cigarettes. A throwaway comment sparks a series of recollections from a youth spent in the economically deprived housing estates of Malmö and in underground clubs and warehouses from Hamburg to Glasgow. Opposing worlds collide and enmesh as the narrative interweaves memories of conversations between old friends over video games and at drug-fuelled parties and present-day discussions with colleagues about music theory on the way to a classical concert in Copenhagen. Nichola Smalley’s translation seamlessly negotiates the different voices and registers of this polyphonic narrative, maintaining a blistering intensity and dynamism from beginning to end. The eight paragraphs making up the novel echo the powerful vibrations and dense notes of the concert hall performance which threaten to overwhelm and consume the narrator in the build-up to the dramatic closing lines. The novel critiques academics and journalists who seek to represent the lives of those marginalised by society in their sanitised dark poetry – ‘gutter tourists, on the hunt for the next aesthetic wonder’ – and searches for a tone in which these experiences can be voiced.
The Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize aims to honour the craft of translation, and to recognise its cultural importance, and is open to translations of prose, poetry or drama by authors living or dead. It was founded by Lord Weidenfeld, one of a wave of immigrants who came to the UK in the years around World War II, and who went on to revitalise British publishing. This is now the second of our translations from Swedish to win this prize in the last five years. The 2017 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize was won by Frank Perry for his translation of Lina Wolff’s novel Bret Easton Ellis and the Other Dogs.