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Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Little Golden Calf Named Best Translation of 2010

by Paul E. Richardson

We are EXCITED to announce that Anne O. Fisher's translation of Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov's classic novel, The Little Golden Calf, which we published in 2009, has received the 2010 AATSEEL Book Award for Best Translation into English. The award, presented by AATSEEL (The American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages), honors the best book-length translation of a literary work from a Slavic Language; the award is juried by three leading American specialists on Slavic literature. This year, eighteen books by over a dozen publishers vied for the prize. AATSEEL's award announcement (by Caryl Emerson, AATSEEL President) read:

"Conveying cultural difference is always a challenge to the translator, but conveying the cultural difference peculiar to humor is a particularly daunting challenge. The rare translator who rises to the occasion deserves special recognition. Anne O. Fisher is just such a translator. She has not merely given us yet another Little Golden Calf in English (it is the third); she has given us one that will elicit the belly laughs Ilf and Petrov are famous for. She has also done so without sacrificing accuracy, thereby giving the lie to the bromide traduttore traditore, "the translator is a traitor." This and the fact that Fisher wrote her dissertation on The Little Golden Calf and The Twelve Chairs vindicates the translators' new mantra: translation is interpretation. Part and parcel of the translation are the essential and unfailingly illuminating notes. Thanks to Anne Fisher, Ostap Bender never had it so good: she has given him a whole new audience."

"I am so honored at this recognition from the profession," said Anne Fisher, "and I hope it will increase the American audience's awareness of and appreciation for Ilf and Petrov, those mainstays of Russophone culture."

Dr. Fisher is a respected authority on the works of Ilf and Petrov. Her translation of Ilf & Petrov's American Road Trip, published by Cabinet Books and Princeton Architectural Press, was shortlisted for the 2007 Rossica Prize for Excellence in Russian to English Literary Translation; her translation of Ilf and Petrov's other Ostap Bender novel, The Twelve Chairs, will be released by Northwestern University Press in 2011; she is also working with Alexandra Ilf on a biography of Ilya Ilf and a translation of his diaries.

Needless to say, this was very exciting news for us. (Did I say that already?) It shows that, contrary to conventional wisdom, independent, niche publishing is alive and kicking: our Little Golden Calf was competing against books by much larger and better-known publishing houses.

This classic novel deserves much greater attention, and Anne Fisher's brilliant translation makes it more accessible than ever. The book is available from us, through Amazon, and as an Amazon Kindle EBook. Thanks to all who have purchased the book. Spread the word, heck, now you can say it was the best translation of a Slavic novel into English for 2010!

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Our edition of The Little Golden Calf, one of the greatest Russian satires ever, is the first new translation of this classic novel in nearly fifty years. It is also the first unabridged, uncensored English translation ever, and is 100% true to the original 1931 serial publication in the Russian journal 30 Dnei. Anne O. Fisher’s translation is copiously annotated, and includes an introduction by Alexandra Ilf, the daughter of one of the book’s two co-authors.

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