The National Book Awards Will Honor Translated Literature

The National Book Foundation is making history (again).

Starting this year, the National Book Foundation will honor works of translation for the first time ever.

The New York Times broke the news Wednesday (January 31), revealing the National Book Awardsplans to honor translated works for its annual prestigious literary prizes.

Since 1950, the foundation has held its pledge to honor and celebrate the very best of American literature. Still, this new foray marks the first time the organization will make its fiction and nonfiction prizes eligible to both authors and translators who work in other languages.

According to NYT, the new regulation comes after a unanimous vote by the National Book Foundation board of directors, in an attempt to bring awareness to works by authors overseas and those in translation often ignored by American publishers.

“This is an opportunity for us to influence how visible books in translation are,” National Book Foundation Executive Director Lisa Lucas told the publication. “The less we know about the rest of the world, the worse off we are.”

Jesmyn Ward Makes History as First Black Woman to Win Two National Book Awards for Fiction
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

This isn’t the only time the National Book Foundation nor its prestigious awards gala has made headlines, either.

Just last year, Mississippian novelist Jesmyn Ward broke barriers with her second National Book Award victory in fiction for her 2017 novel, Salvage the Bones, becoming the only female and black writer to hold two awards in the category in the ceremony’s history.

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