We are thrilled to announce the prize winners of the BKKLIT Translation Prize 2018, sponsored by Assajan.
A big thank you to everyone who entered and supported the competition, the first ever of its kind in Thailand. We received some breathtaking entries and made some great discoveries along the way.
The prize winners are as follows:
FICTION WINNER – Wichayapat Piromsan for her translation of ‘The Girl Who Was Raped Through Her Earholes’ by Jidanun Lueangpiansamut
FICTION RUNNER-UP – Dylan J Hartmann for his translation of ‘The Man With His Back to the Tsunami’ by Jirapat Angsumali
FICTION THIRD PLACE – Narin Onginsea for his translation of Seksan Prasertkul’s ‘A Wound of Its Kind’
POETRY WINNER – Noh Anothai for his translation of ‘Firefly’ by Jiranan Pitpreecha
POETRY RUNNER-UP – Mason Barlow for his translation of ‘Step Slowly’ by Creamstone (Chanchai Yongratikun)
POETRY THIRD PLACE – John Viano and Peeriya Pongsarigun for their translation of ‘When I’m Back’ by Wanit Charungkitanan
FICTION WINNER – Wichayapat Piromsan
Short story: ‘The Girl Who Was Raped Through Her Earholes’ by Jidanun Lueangpiansamut
Wichayapat’s translation brilliantly captures the claustrophobia and conversational verve of Jidanun Lueangpiansamut’s short story. It’s full of the natural rhythms of speech, slang, and pitch-perfect dialogue. Like Jidanun herself, Wichayapat is a special, raw talent that we are hoping to see much more of in the future.
Jidanun Lueangpiansamut is the author of Rebellious Lion, awarded the SEA Write Award 2017, which made her, at 25 years old, the youngest ever SEA Write award winner. ‘The Girl Who Was Raped Through Her Earholes’ is taken from One Day the Memory Will Destroy You.
Wichayapat Piromsan describes herself as a teacher by profession and an activist by heart. She thinks the world does not make sense in a lot of ways and is trying to make more sense of it through writing.
FICTION RUNNER-UP – Dylan J Hartmann
Short story: ‘The Man With His Back to the Tsunami’ by Jirapat Angsumali
Jirapat’s short story presents grief as a kind of paralysis, and Dylan Hartmann’s translation has conveyed this convincingly. Dylan is in full control of tone, making sure that the authorial voice of Jirapat’s original is maintained. We were impressed with how polished the translation was for a translator who hasn’t translated much in the way of literature until now.
Jirapat Angsumali is a highly regarded Thai author with a long history of publishing short stories, novels, and non-fiction. ‘The Man With His Back to the Tsunami’ is from his 2007 collection Shell.
Dylan J Hartmann is an Australian Thai to English translator who grew up in Chiang Mai. He studied Thai language and Culture at the Australian National University and Mae Fah Luang University. He is a NAATI-certified professional translator and AUSIT Qld Committee Member. He now lives in Brisbane, Australia.
FICTION THIRD PLACE – Narin Onginsea
Short story: ‘A Wound of Its Kind’ by Seksan Prasertkul
‘A Wound of Its Kind’ is a short story about a man’s troubled relationships told, largely, through his friendship with his dogs. It has a classic Hemingway / Jack London feel to it, and Narin made a great stab at conveying the hardboiled, unsentimental tone of the original.
Seksan Prasertkul is a poet, short story writer, and novelist. He was a student leader during the October 1973 protests against the military government of Thanom Kittikachorn, and was awarded the title of National Artist of Thailand in 2009. His autobiography was made into the film The Moonhunter. ‘A Wound of Its Kind’ was first published in the magazine Kor Kon in November 2009.
Narin Onginsea is a graduate of Chulalongkorn University. He worked for years in advertising agencies but is now a full-time book translator and is the translator of over forty books.
POETRY WINNER – Noh Anothai
Poem: ‘Firefly’ by Jiranan Pitpreecha
‘Firefly’ is a short, straightforwardly phrased but emotionally complex poem, and Noh does a terrific job of recreating the vivid imagery and direct but rich language of the original. His translation works convincingly as a poem in its own right, the sign of a great translation, and we were unanimous in our decision to award Noh first prize.
Jiranan Phitpreecha was one of the most prominent student activists of the October 14th era. After the violent government crackdown of October 1976, she fled to the backcountry where she joined the Communist Party of Thailand. These experiences are documented in her collection The Leaf That Went Missing, winner of the 1989 SEA Write Award.
Noh Anothai’s Poems from the Buddha’s Footprint (Singing Bone Press, 2016) became the first full-length translation of Sunthorn Phu published outside of Thailand. He has taught Creative Writing at universities in both St. Louis, Missouri and Chiang Rai.
POETRY RUNNER-UP – Mason Barlow
Poem: ‘Step Slowly’ by Creamstone (Chanchai Yongratikun)
Interestingly, Mason chose to translate a relatively obscure poem by a relatively obscure poet, but one which we felt was strong in form and content. Mason, a poet himself, has shaped a translation that is controlled in language and tone. The internal rhymes and half-rhymes are subtle and the language skilfully conveys the natural rhythm of speech, which gives the translation much of its strength.
‘Step Slowly’ was First published in 2010 by Flower Field Publishing in Plain Flower. Mason Barlow describes Creamstone (Chanchai Yongratikun) with the following words: ‘Educated locally in Rayong, Creamstone attended the University of Life and worked in music, culture and literature. His book piles stand as best friends. Folks call him artist, writer, poet, and holy man. Self-proclaimed as the last sinnerman, tinker without tricks, and lecturer without certificates, he lives in Hat Yai.’
Mason Barlow is an American poet, artist, and author of At a Gulp, a poetic travel journal.
POETRY THIRD PLACE – John Viano and Peeriya Pongsarigun
Poem: ‘When I’m Back’ by Wanit Charungkitanan
The translators did a fine job of conveying the deep emotion of Wanit’s poem with simple, direct language. Rhyme schemes in Thai are impossible to re-create exactly in English, but the translators chose a rhyme scheme that was close to the original in order to suggest the the elegiac, lilting cadence of the original.
Wanit Charungkitanan was a Thai poet, novelist, and short story writer whose works have been made into films. His short story collection Soi Diaw Kan won the SEA Write Award award in 1984.
Peeriya Pongsarigun and John Viano have been translating children’s books from Thai to English since 2012. Peeriya teaches English at Chulalongkorn University. John first came to Thailand to serve as a United States Peace Corps volunteer, and is now a researcher in the Faculty of Economics, at Chulalongkorn University.
We were taken aback by the support and encouragement that the competition received and we weren’t disappointed by the entries themselves. They were strong in terms of the standard of translation but also in the selection the translators made of what to translate. Their selections reflect the concerns of contemporary life – the frustration of living in the big city, the struggle for value in what can seem a spiritually bankrupt environment – but also met big, universal themes head-on. The overall picture of Thailand, even from just these six works, is refreshingly different from the image of Thailand that is fixed in the mindset of most of the English-speaking world.