Boris Dralyuk, Presidential Professor of English and Creative Writing at The University of Tulsa, was recently awarded the National Book Critics Circle’s Gregg Barrios Book in Translation Prize for his translation of Grey Bees by Ukrainian author Andrey Kurkov. The book is an examination of resilience in times of dire political conflict and offers English readers a deeply personal and human insight to the 2014 aggression against Ukraine.
Winning the award is a high honor for Dralyuk for many reasons. “It’s a sign that my work passes muster with the nation’s leading literary critics,” he said. “But it also means a great deal for Ukrainian literature in translation, which can offer readers around the globe a rich, textured picture of life in a country that’s been in the news for all the wrong reasons.”
The prize has bolstered Dralyuk’s confidence and strengthened his commitment to his art. “It pushes me to work even harder to bring a wide range of necessary voices into English,” he said.
Dralyuk is the former executive editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books. Now, he and his wife, Jennifer Croft — a fellow literary translator and Gregg Barrios Prize finalist — are two of the four Presidential Professors chosen to strengthen The University of Tulsa’s commitment to the arts and humanities.
Prior to recent years, translators rarely received the appreciation they deserve for the incredible work they bring to the world of literature. Dralyuk hopes that the trend of recognizing the value of translated literature will continue in the coming years. “The Gregg Barrios Prize reflects the growing status of translators,” he stated. “Thanks to the efforts of people like Jennifer Croft, we translators are finally beginning to get the acknowledgment we have earned.”
Dralyuk is teaching an introductory creative writing course and “loving every moment of it.” His students come from all over campus — some pursuing biology, some mathematics, some are student-athletes — but all are equally engaged. “They bring diverse experiences and expertise to the classroom and keep me on my toes,” Dralyuk said. “And I make sure that they see translation as a form of creative writing.”
Drayluk offers simple advice to students who dream of earning this kind of recognition: “Whatever your discipline, try never to lose the love that first drew you to it. That love will keep you going until recognition comes.”
A full list of this year’s National Book Critics Award winners is available at https://www.bookcritics.org/awards/.