Spanish faculty member Lisa Dillman named National Book Award finalist

By April Hunt | Emory Report | Oct. 6, 2020

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Lisa Dillman, professor of pedagogy in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, has been named a National Book Award finalist for her translation from the Spanish of Pilar Quintana’s novel “The Bitch.”

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Lisa Dillman, professor of pedagogy in Emory College’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese, has been named a finalist for the National Book Award for her literary translation of the Pilar Quintana novel “The Bitch.”

Dillman is among five finalists in the translated literature category for the awards announced Tuesday by the National Book Foundation. The awards, which celebrate the best literature in America, are also given for fiction, nonfiction, young people’s literature and poetry.

It is the latest recognition for Dillman’s deftness in translating complex Spanish literature into English. She previously won the international Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize in 2018 for her translation of Andrés Barba’s “Such Small Hands.”

Dillman also was honored with the 2016 Best Translated Book Award for her work on Yuri Herrera’s “Signs Preceding the End of the World.”

Quintana’s novel tells the story of a troubled Colombian woman, Damaris, who brings a puppy home to the shack she shares with her fisherman husband, only to have it disappear into the jungle.

Dillman, a specialist in literary translation from Spanish, must capture the tone and style of the story, in which the jungle itself is a cruel protagonist, as well as Damaris’ behavior toward the strong-willed dog.

“One of the pleasures — and challenges — of translating this book was attempting to capture the unique symmetry between the cruelty of the natural, canine and human realms,” Dillman says.

Dillman and the other finalists will read from their work during the National Book Awards Finalists Reading, a free online event hosted Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m. by The New School.

The winners will be announced Nov. 18 during a ceremony streamed on the National Book Foundation website.