The National Book Awards Goes Global with Addition of Award for Translation

February 7, 2018

National Book Foundation logoThis year, the National Book Foundation (NBF) has elected to add a category for works in translation, providing first-time access to the awards for international authors. The prize, open only to fiction and nonfiction works, will be awarded jointly to translators and original authors.

“This is an opportunity for us to influence how visible books in translation are,” said NBF Executive Director Lisa Lucas.

The National Book Awards have expanded its range of eligibility before, but not for over two decades. A broad mix of categories were added between 1960 and 1970, such as history, biography, first novel, and others. In 1986, the NBA reduced the number of categories to just two: fiction and nonfiction. Poetry and YA Literature were added later.

“It goes to the mission of the organization, which is at its essence to increase the impact of great books on the culture,” said NBF Chairman of the Board of Directors David Steinberger. “There were so many deserving books that we were never able to recognize.”

The National Book Awards began in 1950 to “celebrate the best of American literature.” The new category hopes to combat the “lingering perception” that works of translations do not sell in the US.

“The less we know about the rest of the world, the worse off we are,” said Lucas.


Image Credit: National Book Foundation

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