Monday 1 June 2020

Daša Drndić’s EEG

Last Friday night the distinguished translator Celia Hawkesworth made a second appearance on A Leap in the Dark, the day after it was announced in New York that she had won the 2020 Best Translated Book Award. 

Celia and her publisher Katharina Bielenberg at MacLehose Press spoke about EEG by the great Croatian writer Daša Drndić, who died in June 2018. They were joined by Susan Curtis of Istros Books and the three women shared memories of the writer as a friend. Look up photographs of Drndić online and you'll see an extraordinarily dynamic and charismatic person - you can pratcially hear her. What I've read so far impresses me hugely - she is not a writer offering easy consolation, or any consolation in fact, and her characters are not, in that dread word, 'relatable'. Her writing is 'difficult'. rebarbative, spiky - and essential.

You can find EEG and other books by the author on the MacLehose website here. And her superb novel Doppelgänger published by Istros Books here.

Celia has kindly shared the citation for her award:

The 2020 Best Translated Book Awards—announced in a livestreaming event earlier this evening—were given to Daša Drndić’s EEG and Etel Adnan’s Time.

EEG, translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth and published by New Directions, won for fiction. Lebanese-American Adnan’s Time, translated from the French by Sarah Riggs and published by Nightboat, took the poetry prize.

EEG was Drndić’s last novel, and the fourth translated by Hawkesworth, who has translated nearly 40 books in an accomplished career. Drndić is the first female author to win the fiction category since Can Xue in 2015, though as translators, men and woman are equally represented throughout the years. It is the third time New Directions has taken home this award.

Of EEG, the jury says:

Dasa Drndic in her encyclopedic, panoramic novel, superbly translated by Celia Hawkesworth, calls forth the ghosts of Europe’s 20th century in a biting indictment against complacency and the comfort and convenience of forgetting. A frenzy of observations and deeply researched facts, seething with rage and urgency, it is a haunting and masterful final work. A final work that continues on like a river. It rushes, rages through time, collecting detritus and eroding the landscape, shifting and changing at every bend. It smothers and subsumes, with palpable anger as it attempts to drown the reader again and again before granting them air at the last possible moment. There may be no better descriptor for Hawkesworth’s translation of Drndić’s prose than torrential. You may struggle and try to resist, but at a certain point, you will let yourself be swept away by it. You will give in and trust that it knows which way to go. Once in that place, EEG holds and envelops like few books in memory have.

No comments:

Post a Comment