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Spanish professor Lisa Dillman again named National Book Award finalist for translated novel
Book jacket from publisher and Dillman headshot

Lisa Dillman is being honored for her literary translation of “Abyss,” a novel by Colombian author Pilar Quintana that offers an unsettling look at a family in Cali, Colombia, from the perspective of a young girl.

Lisa Dillman, a professor of practice in Emory College’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese, has again been named a National Book Award (NBA) finalist for her literary translation of a novel by Colombian author Pilar Quintana.

This year, Dillman and Quintana are being honored for “Abyss,” an unsettling look at a family in Cali, Colombia, told from the perspective of an eight-year-old girl. The novel is among five finalists that the National Book Foundation selected from 154 submissions to the category.

The foundation also named Dillman and Quintana as finalists for the award, which celebrates the best literary work in America, for Quintana’s novel “The Bitch” in 2020.

“I feel so honored to be among the finalists this year, and I am particularly thrilled to be nominated for translating a Colombian woman writer I adore,” Dillman says.

The honor is the latest recognition for Dillman’s skillful literary translation from Spanish to English. In addition to her translation landing on the 2020 NBA shortlist, she won the international Oxford-Weidenfield Prize in 2018 for her translation of Andrés Barba’s “Such Small Hands.”

She also won the 2016 Best Translated Book Award for her translation of Yuri Herrera’s “Signs Preceding the End of the World.”

Dillman regularly teaches undergraduate courses in translation studies in addition to Spanish-language classes. This fall, she is teaching an introductory translation class and will offer both intro and more advanced courses in the field this spring.

She and other finalists for the awards — which are also given for fiction, nonfiction, young people’s literature and poetry — will read from their work at the Finalist Reading, to be hosted by Amber Ruffin on Nov. 14 in New York City.

Winners will be announced during an invitation-only dinner on Nov. 15 in New York City.

The award ceremony also includes Emory’s Jericho Brown, the Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing, who will present fellow Pulitzer-Prize-winning poet Rita Dove with the foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. The ceremony will be livestreamed.

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