Prof. Lisa Dillman wins 2018 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize



"This year's Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize goes to Lisa Dillman's translation of Andrés Barba's Such Small Hands, published by Portobello Books. Dillman's translation of Yuri Herrera's The Transmigration of Bodies (And Other Stories) was one of last year's shortlisted entries, so her brisk return to the shortlist this year is both a testament to her fine skills as a translator, as well as to the publishers who have supported her work. In Such Small Hands, Andrés Barba transforms the creepy clichés of horror movies into a tense exploration of group psychology and trauma. It is a classic tale of a new arrival disrupting a community, but Barba manages to keep us wondering whether the cuckoo or the nest is more terrifying. Barba's attention to the sometimes talismanic quality of language, phrases that bring security or propel uncomfortable revelations, is matched by Dillman's carefully paced translation, one that takes us into this feverish world animated by the inarticulable desires and violence of childhood. Make this your next bedtime reading but bear in mind that this story carries a high risk of keeping you up at night. That this is the case owes a great deal to Dillman's translation, which pushes language to a near-breaking point, into a zone where translation truly takes on a life of its own and acquires its own monsters. We also acknowledge here the particular challenges of translating a novella. As the story progresses, the tension that quickly builds between these characters owes much to the novel's tight economy of language, and to Dillman's ability to recast Barba's taut sentences and disconcerting syntax in her own comparably unsettling English translation."