Round–Up: The Odyssey, Barnes & Noble, and the PEN Translates Awards

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Black and white illustration of a woman with snakes for hairFrom the first English translation of The Odyssey by a woman to Barnes & Noble’s holiday campaign, we’ve rounded up the latest literary news:


British classicist Emily Wilson’s translation of Homer’s The Odyssey was released on November 12, becoming the first English translation of the canonized epic by a woman. After the poem’s first English edition was produced by George Chapman in 1615, there have been upwards of 60 translations, all by men, twelve of which appeared in the last twenty years. A new addition to our understanding of the fundamental myths of western society, Wilson’s take on the adventures of Odysseus has received high praise from scholars and authors. “If you’re going to admit that stories matter,” Wilson said in an interview with The New York Times, “then it matters how we tell them.”


In anticipation of the holiday gift-purchasing rush, Barnes & Noble has launched a streamlined suite of new technology to encourage interaction and discoverability with print and non-print products. The developments include a Nook GlowLight 3, a reading device which automatically adjusts to surrounding lighting; Book Graph, a desktop search tool which shows books related in numerous ways to the original search; and SmartGift which functions like a digital gift receipt to alert the recipient of what they will receive and allow them to exchange the item. B&N will also continue its holiday book drive this year, allowing customers to purchase books for donation to organizations such as First Book and Children’s Aid Society.


The PEN Translates Awards, honoring books that achieve literary excellence in translation and continue to diversify the countries and languages from which texts are translated into English, were announced last week. The list of award-winning books spans fourteen languages and fifteen different countries, and includes The Desert and the Drum by Mbarek Ould Beyrouk, the first English translation of a work from Mauritania; and Negative Space by Luljeta Lleshanaku, which is translated from Albanian–a language that has often gone untranslated. The full list is available for purchase on the English PEN World Bookshelf website.