Alison Watts wins inaugural Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation Prize for ‘beautifully sad’ translation from Japanese.
Nine literary translators and one editor have been awarded prizes at this year’s Society of Authors’ Translation Prizes. They have, along with the runners-up, shared a prize fund of £28,000.
This year marked the inaugural Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation Prize for translation from Japanese, awarded to Alison Watts for her translation of The Boy and the Dog by Seishu Hase. Commenting on the winning translation, judge Nozomi Abe said, ‘Everyone, please read this English translation and keep a handkerchief nearby.’
Prizes were also awarded for translations into English from Swedish, French, Spanish, Arabic and German, and the TA First Translation Prize went to a translation from Dutch.
The prize, which is awarded for debut translations in any language, went to translator Sophie Collins and editor Marigold Atkey for a translation of The Opposite of a Person by Lieke Marsman.
Other winners include Saskia Vogel for her ‘luminous’ translation from Swedish of Strega by Johanne Lykke Holm and Frank Wynne for his ‘tour-de-force’ translation from French of Standing Heavy by GauZ’.
The winners will be celebrated this evening at the Translation Prizes ceremony, held in collaboration with the British Library and broadcast online. Thank you to The British Library for hosting this event.
The Translation Prizes are sponsored by Amazon Literary Partnership and Hawthornden Foundation.
Bernard Shaw Prize
A biennial award for translations into English of full–length Swedish language works of literary merit and general interest. The winner is awarded £3,000 and a runner-up is awarded £1,000. This year’s judges were Alison Flood, Nichola Smalley and Amanda Svensson.
Winner: Saskia Vogel for a translation of Strega by Johanne Lykke Holm (Lolli Editions)
Judge Alison Flood said:
Johanne Lykke Holm’s story of a girl who arrives to work in an empty hotel in a remote Alpine town is deep and dreamlike, hinting at and then revealing the dark underbelly of growing up as a young woman in a violent society. Saskia Vogel matches the mythlike flavour of Holm’s tale in her luminous translation of this eerie, disturbing novel.
Runner-up: Jennifer Hayashida for a translation of Euphoria by Elin Cullhed (Canongate Books)
Sponsored by the Anglo-Swedish Literary Foundation.
Premio Valle Inclán
An annual prize for translations into English of full-length Spanish language works of literary merit and general interest. The winner is awarded £3,000 and a runner–up is awarded £1,000. This year’s judges were Juana Adcock, Dr Valentina Aparicio and Gerard Woodward.
Winners: William Rowe and Helen Dimos for a translation of Trilce. Translations and Glosses. by César Vallejo (Veer Books, Crater Press)
Judge Dr Valentina Aparicio:
Thanks to this edition, this classic of South American poetry will be able to reach many in a format that will open a new window to interpretation. The bilingual and glossed format offers a text in three levels, that can be read in many different ways by those who pick up this volume, and can offer new insight to those who are already familiar with Vallejo’s work.
Runner up: Rosalind Harvey for a translation of Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel (Fitzcarraldo Editions)
Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize
An annual award, established by Banipal Magazine and the Banipal Trust for Arab Literature, for published translations from Arabic of full-length works of imaginative and creative writing of literary merit and general interest. The winner is awarded £3,000. This year’s judges were Ros Schwartz (chair), Tony Calderbank, Sarah Enany and Barbara Schwepcke.
Winner: Luke Leafgren for a translation of Mister N by Najwa Barakat (And Other Stories)
The judges said:
In smooth, self-effacing prose, enriched by a widely varied vocabulary, Luke Leafgren leads the reader seamlessly into Najwa Barakat’s creation of a labyrinthine world where all is not as it seems. The shifts in time and point of view are conveyed with aplomb, and the general effect is of a riveting psychological thriller written in delightfully rich and eloquent English. Capturing the spirit and the letter of the original in all its depth and virtuosity, Mister N is an exceptionally good example of the translator’s art.
The prize is sponsored by the Saif Ghobash family in memory of their husband and father, the late Saif Ghobash (21 October 1932 – 25 October 1977) who was a passionate bibliophile, the Banipal Trust for Arab Literature and Banipal Magazine.
The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation Translation Prize
An annual award for translations into English of full-length Japanese–language works of literary merit and general interest. The winner is awarded £3,000 and a runner-up is awarded £1,000. This year’s judges were Nozomi Abe, Nick Bradley and Maya Jaggi.
Winner: Alison Watts for a translation of The Boy and the Dog by Seishu Hase (Scribner, Simon and Schuster)
Judge Nozomi Abe:
The biggest challenge translating a great page-turner such as this book would be to maintain the energy, momentum and cultural charms in order to keep the readers intrigued. This English translation succeeded across the board. Some elements are so beautifully sad that we may freely shed a tear or two. Everyone, please read this English translation and keep a handkerchief nearby.
Runners-up: David Boyd for a translation of Weasels in the Attic by Hiroko Oyamada (Granta) and Sam Bett and David Boyd for a translation of All The Lovers In The Night by Mieko Kawakami (Picador, Pan Macmillan)
Sponsored by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.
An annual award for translations into English of full-length German works of literary merit and general interest. The winner is awarded £3,000 and a runner-up is awarded £1,000. This year’s judges were Ayisha Malik, Anju Okhandiar and Florian Stadtler.
Winner: Jamie Bulloch for a translation of Hinterland by Arno Geiger (Picador, Pan Macmillan)
Judge Anju Okhandiar said:
Jamie Bulloch’s translation style of Arno Geiger‘s Hinterland is distinctively sensitive and impressionable. It digs into the tensions between language, memory, and history by rendering complete justice to the novel about World War II.
Runner-up: Lucy Jones for a translation of Siblings by Brigitte Reimann (Penguin Modern Classics)
Scott Moncrieff Prize
An annual award for translations into English of full-length French works of literary merit and general interest. The winner is awarded £3,000 and a runner-up is awarded £1,000. This year’s judges were Constance Bantman, Jane MacKenzie and David Mills.
Winner: Frank Wynne for a translation of Standing Heavy by GauZ’ (MacLehose Press)
Judge Jane MacKenzie said:
The writing is searingly witty, incisive, full of vivid imagery, and has been superbly translated by Frank Wynne, losing none of the humour, the energy, the authentic street view. This is a true tour-de-force in both languages, and reads as joyfully and sharply in English as it does in French.
Runners-up: Adriana Hunter for a translation of The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier (Michael Joseph, Penguin Random House) and Clíona Ní Ríordáin for a translation of Yell, Sam, If You Still Can by Maylis Besserie (Lilliput Press)
Sponsored by the Institut Français du Royaume-Uni.
TA First Translation Prize
An annual prize for a debut literary translation into English published in the UK and Ireland. The winner is awarded £3,000 and a runner-up is awarded £1,000. The prize is shared between the translator and their editor. This year’s judges were Will Forrester, Carolina Orloff and Mui Poopoksakul.
Winners: Sophie Collins and editor Marigold Atkey for a translation from Dutch of The Opposite of a Person by Lieke Marsman (Daunt Books)
The judges said:
This is a book that refuses to settle – for climate disaster, for straightforward literary expressions of modern life, and for the form it inhabits. It moves between ideas, individuals, genres, styles and speeds with utter ease; only with a translator and an editor of exceptional versatility, instinct and craft could its English-language version be a masterpiece. And so it is.
Runner-up: Nguyễn An Lý for a translation from Vietnamese of Chinatown by Thuận (Tilted Axis Press)
Sponsored by Daniel Hahn and Jo Heinrich
A biennial award for new and emerging translators based in the UK and Ireland, whose literary translation work has not yet been published in print. The winner is awarded €1,000 and is invited to attend the Leipzig Book Fair, including a place at the International Translators’ meeting organised by the Literary Colloquium Berlin. This prize is awarded for the best translation of extracts from Hund, Wolf, Schakal by Behzad Karim Khani (Hanser Berlin, 2022). This year’s judges were Rebecca DeWald and Dr Christophe Fricker.
Winner: Rob Myatt
The judges said:
We decided to award the prize to an entry that joyfully embraces translation as creative practice and establishes a distinct linguistic vision of the protagonists’ individual personalities, their interactions, and their struggles to feel at home in two different parts of the world. We believe that it does what translations do at their best: write the next chapter of the life of a book originally published elsewhere.
Runner-up: Fiona Graham
Sponsored by the Goethe-Institut London.