All This Belongs to Me
Northwestern UP

NTA Winner 2010
National Translation Award

The 2010 National Translation Award winner is Alex Zucker for his translation of All This Belongs to Me.

Alex Zucker, a freelance translator based in the U.S., has translated two novels and numerous short stories, as well as plays, poems and song lyrics. His translation of Czech author Jáchym Topol’s first novel, City Sister Silver, was selected for inclusion in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. Zucker’s most recent translation was a comic opera staged by The National Theater in Prague and directed by Miloš Forman, who won the Oscar for Best Director for “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Amadeus.”

Author H?lová became an overnight sensation in the Czech Republic when All This Belongs to Me, her first novel, was published in 2002. The novel was named Book of the Year by the Prague daily newspaper Lidové noviny and Discovery of the Year by the prestigious Magnesia Litera association. All This Belongs to Me chronicles the lives of three generations of women in a Mongolian family whose differing points of view reveal complex identities and dramatic secrets beneath the daily rhythms of nomadic existence and the modern realities of living in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar. H?lová draws on the year she spent living and studying in Mongolia to construct an epic family saga with richly varied voices and a deeply moving narrative tapestry.

The final jury for this year’s National Translation Award praised Zucker for a “beautifully fluent translation that portrays each character in convincingly idiomatic English, and yet still manages to distinguish the five closely related main characters according to their individual temperaments. The story is compelling on personal and broader, political levels, the characters are deeply human, and their difficult choices are portrayed with great dignity. All in all, this is a book to be savored and treasured.”

Upon hearing that he had won, Zucker said, “it is truly an honor to receive this award. All This Belongs to Me was a challenge to translate mainly because of its five different narrators — five women, each with her own voice and own style of storytelling. But H?lová put much of her knowledge of the place, including language, into her book, so another challenge was to do the research — geography, history, customs, religion, construction of yurts, and life on the steppe — required to make the text come alive for the English-speaking reader.”

Alex Zucker