The Society of Authors has today announced seven shortlists for its annual Translation Prizes. Sharing in a total prize fund worth almost £20,000, the winners will be announced in a ceremony at The British Library Knowledge Centre on Wednesday 12 February 2020.
The thirty-five shortlisted works, translated from nine languages, were described by the judges as ‘vivid’, ‘intense’, ‘compelling’, and ‘seeming to accomplish the impossible’. They are stunning translations into English from German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Dutch, and Hebrew.
The biennial Goethe-Insitut Award for New Translation will also be awarded for the best translation of an extract from Die Fahrt by Sibylle Berg from German into English.
THE SCHLEGEL-TIECK PRIZE
An annual award of £3,000 for translations into English of full-length German works of literary merit and general interest. This year’s judges are Dr Caroline Summers and Professor Emily Jeremiah.
Margot Bettauer Dembo for a translation of The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers (Virago Press)
The judges said: ‘A compelling and important novel about power, resistance and complicity.’
Katy Derbyshire for a translation of Gentleman Jack by Angela Steidele (Serpent’s Tail)
The judges said: ‘Moves effortlessly between the registers and voices that tell Lister’s story.’
Iain Galbraith for a translation of River by Esther Kinsky (Fitzcarraldo Editions)
The judges said: ‘Galbraith’s detailed, attentive translation is beautiful.’
Karen Leeder for a translation of Thick of It by Ulrike Almut Sandig (Seagull Books)
The judges said: ‘Balances an acute sensitivity to the German texts with the creative licence that enables [the] intricate artistry to work in English, to great effect.’
Simon Pare for a translation of The Flying Mountain by Christoph Ransmayr (Seagull Books)
The judges said: ‘Simon Pare’s translation deftly and sensitively conveys the poetry of this perceptive and unusual book.’
Damion Searls for a translation of Anniversaries: From Year in the Life of Cresspahl by Uwe Johnson (New York Review Books)
The judges said: ‘A sensitive and evocative translation of a text that is rich in linguistic and cultural meaning.’
THE SCOTT MONCRIEFF PRIZE
An annual award of £1,000 for translations into English of full-length French works of literary merit and general interest. This year’s judges are Professor Susan Harrow and Dr Sudhir Hazareesingh.
Linda Coverdale for a translation of The Old Slave and the Mastiff by Patrick Chamoiseau (Dialogue Books)
The judges said: ‘As illuminating as it is beautiful. This is much more than a translation.’
Penny Hueston for a translation of Our Life in the Forest by Marie Darrieussecq (Text Publishing)
The judges said: ‘Penny Hueston’s excellent translation brings out the bleakness of this dystopian feminist thriller.’
Adriana Hunter for a translation of Women at Sea by Catherine Poulain (Jonathan Cape)
The judges said: ‘An unforgettable literary experience.’
Tina Kover for a translation of Disoriental by Négar Djavadi (Europa Editions)
The judges said: ‘Tina Kover’s superb translation sensitively captures the emotional depth of this gripping debut novel about Iran’s violent history in the modern era.’
Geoffrey Strachan for a translation of Tropic of Violence by Nathacha Appanah (MacLehose Press)
The judges said: ‘Geoffrey Strachan’s remarkable translation draws out the harshness and precarious quality of life in the French Indian Ocean territories.’
David Warriner for a translation of We Were the Salt of the Sea by Roxanne Bouchard (Orenda Books)
The judges said: ‘Achieves an exquisite weaving of the voices that resonate through this profound work that is at once ocean-faring chronicle and detective novel.’
THE TA FIRST TRANSLATION PRIZE
An annual £2,000 prize for a debut literary translation into English published in the UK. The Prize is shared between the translator and their editor. This year’s judges are Daniel Hahn, Ellie Steel, and Shaun Whiteside.
Sarah Booker and editor Lauren Rosemary Hook for a translation of The Iliac Crest by Cristina Rivera Garza (And Other Stories). Translated from Spanish.
The judges said: ‘The unsettling atmosphere is deftly captured in a translation that is both imaginative and precise.’
Natascha Brice and editor Jeremy Tiang for a translation of Lonely Face by Yeng Pway Ngon (Balestier Press). Translated from Chinese (Singapore).
The judges said: ‘Expertly negotiates a fine line between English that is familiarly idiomatic and subtly stretching what the language can do.’
Morgan Giles and editor Saba Ahmed for a translation of Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri (Tilted Axis Press). Translated from Japanese.
The judges said: ‘A colourful narrative that comes in and out of focus, building slowly towards a devastating conclusion.’
Ellen Jones and editors Fionn Petch and Carolina Orloff for a translation of Trout, Belly Up by Rodrigo Fuentes (Charco Press). Translated from Spanish.
The judges said: ‘Gritty tales from the Guatemalan backwood, often startlingly violent but also tender and nostalgic, these stories explode on to the page.’
William Spence and editor Tomasz Hoskins for a translation of The Promise: Love and Loss in Modern China by XinRan Xue (I. B. Tauris). Translated from Mandarin.
The judges said: ‘A moving and intriguing study of China in flux, told unexpectedly through its tales of love and marriage.’
Charlotte Whittle and editor Bella Bosworth for a translation of People in the Room by Norah Langé (And Other Stories). Translated from Spanish.
The judges said: ‘A beautifully translated, surreal classic of Argentinean literature.’
THE PREMIO VALLE INCLÁN PRIZE
An annual prize of £2,000 for translations into English of full-length Spanish language works of literary merit and general interest. This year’s judges are Professor Peter Bush and Dr Laura Lonsdale.
Nick Caistor for a translation of Springtime in a Broken Mirror by Mario Benedetti (Penguin Classics)
The judges said: ‘This is a beautiful, lucid rendering of a previously untranslated novel by the Uruguayan author, which navigates the voices and experiences of its characters with subtlety and grace.’
Charlotte Coombe for a translation of Fish Soup by Margarita García Robayo (Charco Press)
The judges said: ‘This sparky, lively translation brilliantly captures the laconic tone of Margarita García Robayo’s stories,’
William Gregory for a translation of The Oberon Anthology of Contemporary Spanish Plays by Borja Ortiz de Gondra, Blanca Doménech, Víctor Sánchez Rodríguez, Vanessa Montfort, and Julio Escalada (Oberon Books)
The judges said: ‘Always sensitive to the cultural and linguistic contexts from which the plays emerge, William Gregory has a sharp ear for speech, dialogue, and linguistic humour that lifts the words off the page.’
Sophie Hughes for a translation of The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zeran (And Other Stories)
The judges said: ‘The translation by Sophie Hughes brilliantly recreates a narrative movement in English that grasps the reader from the first sentence.’
Jessica Sequeira for a translation of Land of Smoke by Sara Gallardo (Pushkin Press)
The judges said: ‘beautifully recreates the quirky edginess and constant ability to surprise of these short fictions.’
THE SAIF GHOBASH BANIPAL PRIZE
An annual award of £3,000 for published translations from Arabic of full-length works of imaginative and creative writing of literary merit and general interest. This year’s judges are Ghazi Gheblawi, Dr Jan Fortune, Abla Oudeh, and Catherine Taylor.
Marilyn Booth for a translation of Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi (Sandstone Press)
The judges said: ‘The fluent and honed prose makes this insightful novel a delight to read.’
Humphrey Davies for a translation of My Name is Adam: Children of the Ghetto
Volume 1 by Elias Khoury (MacLehose)
The judges said: ‘An intense and absolute delight.’
Leri Price for a translation of Death is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa (Faber & Faber)
The judges said: ‘A beautifully written and subtly translated piece of fiction, which feels almost one of dual authorship.’
Jonathan Wright for a translation of Jokes for the Gunman by Mazen Maarouf
The judges said: ‘A perfectly seamless and bold translation.’
THE VONDEL PRIZE
The Vondel Prize is a biennial award of €5000 for translation into English of full-length Dutch language works of literary merit and general interest. This year’s judges are David Colmer, Jane Draycott, and Anthony Paul.
David Doherty for a translation of Monte Carlo by Peter Terrin (MacLehose Press)
The judges said: ‘David Doherty does full justice to Terrin’s meticulously crafted original.’
Antoinette Fawcett for a translation of Bird Cottage by Eva Meijer (Pushkin Press)
The judges said: ‘Antoinette Fawcett acquits herself beautifully of the difficult task of “bringing a book home in translation.”’
Nancy Forest-Flier for a translation of The Story of Shit by Midas Dekkers (Text Publishing)
The judges said: ‘Resourceful and intelligent, echoing the author’s wry tone and inimitable exuberance throughout.’
Michele Hutchison for a translation of Stage Four by Sander Kollaard (Amazon Crossing)
The judges said: ‘Michele Hutchison’s sure-footed, propulsive translation combines empathy with eloquence.’
THE TLS-RISA DOMB / PORJES PRIZE
The TLS-Risa Domb/Porjes Prize of £2,000 has been awarded triennially since 1998 and recognises the English translation of a full-length Hebrew book, fiction or non-fiction, of general interest and literary merit. This year’s judges are Boyd Tonkin, Dr. Tsila Ratner, and Dr. Yaron Peleg.
Peter C. Appleaum for a translation of Hell on Earth by Avigdor Hameiri (Wayne State University Press)
The judges said: ‘Translator Peter Appelbaum’s evocative translation has finally brought the novel back to what may be its more natural setting.’
Jessica Cohen for a translation of A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman (Vintage)
The judges said: ‘David Grossman’s impassioned and outrageous soliloquy for a tormented Israeli stand-up finds a magnificent echo in Jessica Cohen’s version of his scorching, soaring words.’
Nicholas de Lange for a translation of Judas by Amos Oz (Vintage)
The judges said: ‘Continues the life-long collaboration between the translator and the author to produce yet another articulate expression of one of Israel’s last prophetic writers.’
Rachel Tzvia Back for a translation of On the Surface of Silence by Lea Goldberg (Hebrew Union College Press)
The judges said: ‘Back’s voice does singing justice to this uncompromising giant of Hebrew verse.’