The English translation of The Tale of Khun Chang Khun Phaen by Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit has won the Becker Prize awarded by the Association of Asian Studies. The award was announced at the Association's annual conference in San Diego, California, on March 22.
The annual prize, named after a famous translator of Indonesian literature, is awarded for an outstanding translation of Southeast Asian literature. This is the first time the prize was awarded in open competition.
The prize citation calls the translation "a tour de force". "It arguably represents the greatest achievement to date in the field of Southeast literary translation, providing access in English to a well-known but otherwise esoteric traditional verse text which even native Thai speakers find inaccessible... Rendering this linguistically complex literary work into English has not simply been an act of mechanical translation but rather a seven-year-long project of intellectual rigour based on historical and linguistic research. The result is an invaluable contribution to out knowledge of traditional Siamese literature. Not to mention, a gripping read."
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