Khaled Khalifa’s ‘Death is Hard Work’ a National Book Award Finalist

Khaled Khalifa and the cover of the novel “Death is Hard Work” – English Edition

National Book Awards organizers today announced their five-book shortlists in five different categories, including the relatively new category of Translated Literature, where Leri Price’s translation of Khaled Khalifa’s Death is Hard Work joins books translated from Finnish, Hungarian, French, and Japanese:

This is only the second year the National Book Award has had a category for Translated Literature, and Khalifa’s Death is Hard Work, in Leri Price’s compelling translation, is a strong contender for the award. The novel, which we discussed in Episode 29 of Bulaq, centers on a dark and surrealist family road trip through contemporary Syria, to bury a father’s body, and has many small, beautiful observations of human life and family dynamics.

The 2019 judges for this category are n+1 editor Keith Gessen, translator Elisabeth Jaquette, novelist Katie Kitamura, novelist Idra Novey, and publisher-bookseller Shuchi Saraswat.

The other four on the shortlist:

  • László Krasznahorkai’s Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming, translated by Ottilie Mulzet (New Directions)
  • Scholastique Mukasonga’s The Barefoot Woman, translated by Jordan Stump (Archipelago Books)
  • Yoko Ogawa’s The Memory Police, translated by Stephen Snyder (Pantheon Books / Penguin Random House)
  • Pajtim Statovci’s Crossing, translated by David Hackston (Pantheon Books / Penguin Random House)
  • Moroccan-American novelist Laila Lalami’s The Other Americans also made the shortlist in the fiction category.

Winners will be announced on November 20.

Published on Arab Lit here

Arab Lit
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