Tuesday night WWB staff, board, contributors, supporters, and readers gathered at Tribeca 360, where the panoramic view mirrored the sweep of our content, to celebrate our thirteenth anniversary and present the fourth James H. Ottaway Jr. Award for the Promotion of International Literature to New Directions publisher Barbara Epler.
After a convivial cocktail hour, guests took their seats with literary table hosts including Paul Auster, Siri Hustvedt, Carmen Boullosa, John Keene, and many other luminaries. The great Edith Grossman welcomed everyone, evoking Cervantes and declaring, “What is there to say to Words Without Borders other than thank you for your support, for your protection, for your proselytizing: so appreciated.”
Image: Barbara Epler, president and publisher of New Directions, accepts the 2016 Ottaway Award. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan.
Presenting the 2016 Ottaway Award for the Promotion of International Literature to Barbara Epler, writer Hilton Als saluted her rare editorial gift with the marvelous “Barbara translates writers to themselves.” In her acceptance remarks, Barbara spoke of her pride on behalf of “this wonderful house,” New Directions, and praised the work of her fellow publishers of international literature. She underscored the importance of publishing international literature by asserting: “In a crazy time when people are talking about building up walls, we’re working to tear them down.”
Other highlights of the program included bilingual poetry readings from translators Alta L. Price, Sebastian Schulman, Tess Lewis, and Jeremy Tiang, and emcee Roxana Saberi’s moving account of how translated literature became her lifeline during her 101-day imprisonment in Iran on trumped-up charges of espionage.
Image: Writers Humera Afridi and Ru Freeman dance at the third annual Globe Trot after-party. Photo by Abby Starr.
The gala dinner was followed by the third annual Globe Trot, hosted by the WWB Young Publishers Committee and co-hosts Nicole Dennis-Benn, Katie Kitamura, Carlos Labbé, Imbolo Mbue, Anne Posten, and Kirstin Valdez Quade. A fresh crowd of young literary people swept in to enjoy the music of DJ Martin Perna, covetable raffle prizes, a delectable array of savories and sweets, and free-flowing champagne. Both decibels and spirits ran high.
We’re delighted to have shared in such a warm celebration of WWB’s work and mission with a generous group of readers, supporters, contributors, and friends. Thanks to all who made it a terrific event. Until next year!
Image: 2016 WWB Gala Co-chairs and board members Margo Viscusi and Jenny Staff Johnson with (center) WWB Executive Director Karen Phillips. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan.