Baylor professor’s book translation wins Brazil’s top literary prize

Arts & Sciences News

December 9, 2022
Dec. 9, 2022

By Randy Fiedler, Director of Marketing and Communications, College of Arts & Sciences, Baylor University

Rafael Climent-Espino, Ph.D., associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese in the Baylor University College of Arts & Sciences, has won the most prestigious Brazilian book prize for his translation of a recent novel.

Climent-Espino’s translation from Portuguese into Spanish of Brazilian author Itamar Vieira Junior’s 2018 novel Torcido Arado (“Crooked Plow,” original title in Portuguese Torto Arado) won this year’s Prêmio Jabuti prize. The Prêmio Jabuti (“Tortoise Prize”) is given by the Brazilian Book Chamber.

“My translation of Torcido Arado won the prize in the category of Best Brazilian Book Published Abroad, so the jury also took into account the work of the publisher, graphic designer and others,” Climent-Espino said. “Since the Prêmio Jabuti is the most important, traditional and prestigious literary award in Brazil, it is a great honor for me. I put a lot of work in that translation, and I feel very rewarded.”

“Dr. Climent-Espino is one of the most productive research faculty in the Deptartment of Modern Languages and Cultures, in addition to being an outstanding classroom instructor and fine colleague,” said Michael Long, Ph.D., chair and professor of modern languages and cultures. “The Jabuti book prize is one of the most prestigious literary awards in Latin America. Dr. Climent-Espino’s translation emerged as the winner in a very competitive contest, which is a testimony to his outstanding skills as a translator.”

Torcido Arado has been called one of the most important Brazilian novels of the 21st century.

Torcido Arado deals with runaway slaves in Northeastern Brazil, and also with Afro-Brazilian religions. I loved the novel since I read it for the first time,” Climent-Espino said. “I constantly read Brazilian literature, usually 21st century Brazilian writers. There is an outstanding quality among the new batch of Brazilian authors, but they are not well-known out of Brazil. I am very interested in racial and ethnic representations in Latin American literature and culture, and my research deals frequently with those topics.”

Climent-Espino, who joined the Baylor faculty in 2012, has taught all levels of courses in Spanish and Portuguese. “I frequently teach courses such as ‘Introduction to Hispanic Literature,’ ‘Food and Culture in the Hispanic World’ and ‘Iberian and Latin American Pop Culture,'” he said. “I also teach a graduate course titled ‘Latin American Literature: 1950-Present,’ which is in the Master of Arts program in Spanish.”

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