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Spanish faculty member Lisa Dillman wins national translation award

By April Hunt | Emory Report | June 6, 2016

Lisa Dillman, a senior lecturer in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, has won a national translation award for her work on Yuri Herrera’s “Signs Preceding the End of the World.

The Best Translated Book Award for fiction is chosen from more than 500 books in several languages and comes with a $5,000 prize for both the winning author and translator. Dillman twice before had been on the “long list” of 25 finalists out of 500 books considered annually for the award, which is among the most significant of its kind in the United States.

The win thrilled Dillman’s colleagues, says Donald Tuten, chair of the Spanish and Portuguese Language Department, who noted it was the first time a Spanish-language book won.

“It serves as well-deserved recognition of the quality of Professor Dillman’s work in literary translation, not only on this project but on the many others that have preceded it,” he says.

Dillman, whose field is literary translation from Spanish and Catalan, has worked with Herrera for several years, translating many of his short stories. Her winning translation includes a translator’s note, to explain some of her process.

Her translation of a second novel by Herrera, “The Transmigration of Bodies,” will be published in July.

“Because I teach translation every year, my research, my teaching and my actual translation are intimately intertwined,” Dillman says. “For instance, in March 2015, Yuri Herrera actually came to Atlanta and spoke to my class, and we analyzed the Spanish of this book, which is also taught in my colleague Professor Vialla Hartfield-Mendez’s course on the US-Mexico border (Spanish 460).”

Dillman earned her master’s degree in Spanish literature at Emory before teaching and working as a translator in Madrid and Barcelona.

She later moved to the United Kingdom, where she worked as an editor, taught Spanish at the University of North London and earned a second master’s degree in literary translation from Middlesex University.

Three Percent, an online resource for international literature based at the University of Rochester, presents the translation awards each year. The group takes its name from the estimated percentage of books published annually in the U.S. that are works in translation. Amazon.com provides the prize money.