30th Annual Translation Prize Winners

FICTION WINNER:  

Sam Taylor

The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal // Farrar, Straus & Giroux

About the Book

Just before dawn on a Sunday morning, three teenage boys go surfing. While driving home exhausted, the boys are involved in a fatal car accident on a deserted road. Two of the boys are wearing seat belts; one goes through the windshield. The doctors declare him brain-dead shortly after arriving at the hospital, but his heart is still beating.

The Heart takes place over the twenty-four hours surrounding the resulting heart transplant, as life is taken from a young man and given to a woman close to death. In gorgeous, ruminative prose, it examines the deepest feelings of everyone involved as they navigate decisions of life and death.

As stylistically audacious as it is emotionally explosive, The Heart mesmerized readers in France, where it has been hailed as the breakthrough work of a new literary star. 

Read an Interview with Sam Taylor 


NONFICTION WINNERS:

Jane Marie Todd 

The French Resistance by Olivier Wieviorka // Harvard University Press

About the Book

Olivier Wieviorka presents a comprehensive history of the French Resistance, synthesizing its social, political, and military aspects to offer fresh insights into its operation. Detailing the Resistance from the inside out, he reveals not one organization but many interlocking groups often at odds over goals, methods, and leadership. He debunks lingering myths, including the idea that the Resistance sprang up in response to the exhortations of de Gaulle’s Free French government-in-exile. The Resistance was homegrown, arising from the soil of French civil society. Resisters had to improvise in the fight against the Nazis and the collaborationist Vichy regime. They had no blueprint to follow, but resisters from all walks of life and across the political spectrum formed networks, organizing activities from printing newspapers to rescuing downed airmen to sabotage. Although the Resistance was never strong enough to fight the Germans openly, it provided the Allies invaluable intelligence, sowed havoc behind enemy lines on D-Day, and played a key role in Paris’s liberation.

Wieviorka shatters the conventional image of a united resistance with no interest in political power. But setting the record straight does not tarnish the legacy of its fighters, who braved Nazism without blinking. 

Read an Interview with Jane Marie Todd 


Lauren Elkin and Charlotte Mandell

Jean Cocteau: A Life by Claude Arnaud // Yale University Press

About the Book

Unevenly respected, easily hated, almost always suspected of being inferior to his reputation, Jean Cocteau has often been thought of as a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. In this landmark biography, Claude Arnaud thoroughly contests this characterization, as he celebrates Cocteau’s “fragile genius—a combination almost unlivable in art” but in his case so fertile.

Arnaud narrates the life of this legendary French novelist, poet, playwright, director, filmmaker, and designer who, as a young man, pretended to be a sort of a god, but who died as a humble and exhausted craftsman. His moving and compassionate account examines the nature of Cocteau’s chameleon-like genius, his romantic attachments, his controversial politics, and his intimate involvement with many of the century’s leading artistic lights, including Picasso, Proust, Hemingway, Stravinsky, and Tennessee Williams. Already published to great critical acclaim in France, Arnaud’s penetrating and deeply researched work reveals a uniquely gifted artist while offering a magnificent cultural history of the twentieth century.

Read an Interview with Lauren Elkin and Charlotte Mandell