You might have seen that the International Book Awards were announced on Friday. I’m a little late to the game because I was in Pennsylvania, But behold the (seriously long) list of amazing titles that have won and take note, mi gente, of the new voices coming to the table. If you’re unfamiliar with the work of these authors, please take the chance now to gather their books and enjoy. All the winners – some of them my heroes and dear friends (…looking at you Isabel Campoy, Pam Muñoz, Sonia Manzano, Margarita Engle, Daniel José Older, and more…) have my deepest respect and congratulations.
So, I am excited to say that Mango Abuela and Me earned second place as best picture book in English, and Burn Baby Burn earned an honorable mention in Young Adult.
But I am hugely proud to announce that Teresa Mlawer won first place in translation for both Mango Abuela y Yo and Yaqui Delgado Quiere Darte Una Paliza.
An industry veteran, Teresa has translated the likes of Where the Wild Things Are and Harold and the Purple Crayon. I had the pleasure of meeting her on the faculty of the 2014 Latino National Children’s Literature Conference at the University of Alabama. (Proof positive of the value of going to conferences…) So, when Candlewick hired her as my translator a couple of years later, I knew I was in good hands.
Having the work of Latino authors available in translation matters. It’s a statement of respect for multiple literacies, first of all. But it also opens a way for sharing literature within families (including school “families”) where multiple languages are spoken.
The nuances of translation are beastly, though. Getting the language right and ensuring that the word choice and pace are on target, are what make something feel true and accurate. In Latino literature, that’s a big job. Each country has its own vocabulary, its own slang and rhythm, its own set of rules about what is profane.What is innocent in one place is utterly vulgar in another.
Teresa captured the sound of the Cuban dialect that my family speaks, and so what she did was tell the story the way I heard it emotionally. It helps, of course, that she is a Cuban immigrant herself. But what really matters is how diligently she went at the task. More than once as she translated Yaqui, she’d call me to say, “I have never worked so hard on a translation. I am trying to get your voice exactly right.”
I feel so lucky to have benefitted from that kind of respect and dedication. And so the joy I feel about her success is so personal.
Congratulations, mi estimada Teresa. These recognitions are so deserved.
Cariños siempre de,
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Congratulations on these impressive awards (as well as the National Book Award longlist for Burn, Baby, Burn)! And thank you for recognizing the importance of translation! I hope some of the books originally published in Spanish that won these awards will make their appearance in English soon. As a translator, I will certainly check them out and try to help the process along.