UND’s master translator Elizabeth Harris is a finalist for two more national prizes


Jan Orvik

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News Article

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College of Arts & Sciences


University of North Dakota Professor of English Elizabeth Harris is a finalist for two national translation prizes for her translation of Antonio Tabucchi’s Tristano Dies, which came out in 2015 with Archipelago Books.

The two prizes, sponsored by the American Literary Translators Association, are The Italian Prose in Translation Award (the IPTA) and the National Translation Award. Here is the IPTA judges’ description of Tristano Dies:

“Antonio Tabucchi’s Tristano Dies unfolds in the form of an apparent interview, though all readers have access to is a single voice, which ranges across topics and years, circling around a dying Italian Resistance hero’s heroism and lack thereof.

“A verbal performance in the manner of Bohumil Hrabal or Vladimir Nabokov, the book showcases a mind in thought and the verbal presentation of self that takes that thought into the world. The shaping and delivery of words in combination is thus paramount, and Elizabeth Harris’s English translation masterfully mimics the book’s oral façade, displaying sensitivity, creative range and stylistic control over the book’s rampant fragmentation, digression and shifting perspectives and times. The result is fascinating and hypnotic.”

Tabucchi, who died in 2012, is considered one of the most important writers of postwar Italy. He published more than 20 works of fiction, won the Italian PEN Prize and the Aristeion European Literature Prize and was named a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government.

For her translation of Tabucchi’s later novel, Tristano Muore, Harris won a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant from the PEN American Center (New York).

Harris, who specializes in teaching Creative writing at UND, has been previously recognized for her work in literary translation. Harris was awarded the 2013 Translation Prize from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Culture (Rome) for Mario Rigoni Stern’s Giacomo’s Seasons and a Banff International Centre Translation Residency (Banff, Canada).

In addition to the three books she has translated, Harris has more than 40 published translations of stories, novel excerpts and commentaries or translation in various journals, such as The Kenyon Review and The Missouri Review. Her translations have appeared three times in the anthology Best European Fiction (Dalkey Archive Press), including work by Giulio Mozzi (2010), Marco Candida (2011) and Diego Marani (2015).