Competition: US & Canada
Esther Allen’s translation of Antonio Di Benedetto’s 1956 Zama was published by NYRB Classics in 2016—the novel’s first appearance in English. It was selected by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the year’s 20 best works of fiction and was awarded the National Translation Award by the American Literary Translators Association.
Allen is a Professor at City University of New York, where she is on the faculty of Baruch College’s Department of Modern Languages, and of the Graduate Center’s Ph.D. Programs in French and in Latin American, Iberian and Latino Cultures.
She edited, translated and annotated José Martí: Selected Writings (Penguin Classics), named a 2002 Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times Book Review, and was co-translator of The Selected Non-Fictions of Jorge Luis Borges (Viking), edited by Eliot Weinberger, which was awarded the 1999 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism. She has twice received National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowships: for Zama and for Rosario Castellanos’s Book of Lamentations (Penguin Classics, 1998). She has been a Fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers and at the Leon Levy Center for Biography, where she began a biography of José Martí (to be published by Henry Holt). Follow this link to read some of her essays, interviews and translations.
A longtime activist on behalf of translation into English, Allen worked with Michael Henry Heim to establish the PEN/Heim Translation Fund in 2003, and co-founded the PEN World Voices Festival in 2005. The French government named her a Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres in 2006.
As a Guggenheim Fellow, Allen will complete the translation of The Silentiary (first published in 1964) and The Suicides (1968), two novels by Antonio Di Benedetto (1922-1986), who was himself a Guggenheim Fellow in 1973.