Such Small Hands Wins Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize


Andrés Barba's Such Small Hands, translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman was named the winner of the 2018 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize. Congratulations, Lisa! This is what the judges had to say:

In Such Small Hands, Andrés Barba transforms the creepy clichés of horror movies into a tense exploration of group psychology and trauma. It is a classic tale of a new arrival disrupting a community, but Barba manages to keep us wondering whether the cuckoo or the nest is more terrifying. Barba’s attention to the sometimes talismanic quality of language, phrases that bring security or propel uncomfortable revelations, is matched by Dillman’s carefully paced translation, one that takes us into this feverish world animated by the inarticulable desires and violence of childhood.

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Make this your next bedtime reading but bear in mind that this story carries a high risk of keeping you up at night. That this is the case owes a great deal to Dillman’s translation, which pushes language to a near-breaking point, into a zone where translation truly takes on a life of its own and acquires its own monsters. We also acknowledge here the particular challenges of translating a novella. As the story progresses, the tension that quickly builds between these characters owes much to the novel’s tight economy of language, and to Dillman’s ability to recast Barba’s taut sentences and disconcerting syntax in her own comparably unsettling English translation.

The prize is for book-length literary translations into English from any living European language. It aims to honor the craft of translation, and to recognize its cultural importance.

This year’s shortlist included eight books from an outstanding entry of 112 titles in translations from 24 different languages:

  • Dorthe Nors, Mirror, Shoulder, Signal, translated from the Danish by Misha Hoekstra 
  • Yoko Tawada, Memoirs of a Polar Bear, translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky
  • Pablo Neruda, Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda Poems, translated from the Spanish by Forrest Gander
  • Émile Zola, A Love Story, translated from the French by Helen Constantine
  • Louis Guilloux, Blood Dark, translated from the French by Laura Marris 
  • Andrés Barba, Such Small Hands, translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman 
  • Édouard Louis, The End of Eddy, translated from the French by Michael Lucey 
  • Daša Drndić, Belladonna, translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth 

Titles translated by Lisa Dillman