EBRD Literarure Prize 2019: finalists announced

Three novels have been announced as finalists in the 2019 EBRD Literature Prize, created by the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The Prize celebrates the very best in translated literature from the almost 40 economies where the Bank invests, from Morocco to Mongolia, and from Estonia to Egypt.

The three shortlisted finalists for this year’s Prize are:

Soviet Milk by Nora Ikstena, translated from Latvian by Margita Gaelitis (Peirene Press)

The Devils’ Dance by Hamid Ismailov, translated from Uzbek by Donald Rayfield(with John Farndon) (Tilted Axis Press)

Drive Your Plow by Olga Tokarczuk, translated from the Polish by AntoniaLloyd-Jones (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

The EBRD Literature Prize 2019 will be awarded to the best work of literary fiction originally written in a language from one of the 38 economies where the Bank invests, translated into English and published by a UK publisher. The winner will receive the top prize of €20,000, split evenly between the author and the translator, and the two runner-up titles will receive €2,000, similarly divided.

Rosie Goldsmith, Chair of the Judges, said:

“With The Devils’ Dance, Drive Your Plow and Soviet Milk you have three bold and beautiful works of fiction which represent the world of literature today. As judges, choosing three from our perfect and popular Longlist of ten felt like a betrayal, but in these three novels, spanning eastern Europe, the Baltics and Central Asia, you have a wide world distilled – and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Samantha, Ted, Gabriel and I hope you’ll enjoy reading them as much as we did: the William Blake-loving, funny and furious eco-warrior Polish vegetarian; a painful mother-daughter novel struggling through decades of Soviet suppression in Latvia, and, the first-ever novel translated from Uzbek into English, replete with poetry and magical, tragical tales from Central Asia.

Each novel is wonderfully different but they all share the ability to reflect their own culture as well as telling universal stories to touch us all. The three authors and three translators are already major voices in their own cultures and languages. We hope passionately that the EBRD Literature Prize can also help promote them and literature in translation here in the UK.”

Colm Lincoln, Deputy Secretary General of the EBRD, said: “There was an impressive list of entries this year, covering almost all the Bank’s regions and multiple languages, and our independent judging panel had to work very hard to reach this decision. The panel has selected truly outstanding examples of literary fiction which represent the diversity of culture and uniqueness of countries where the EBRD invests. We congratulate our nominated writers and translators and look forward to learning more about these three extraordinary books at our award ceremony.”

The winner will be announced at an award ceremony at the EBRD’s headquarters at One Exchange Square, London, on 7 March 2019.

Events in the final week for the shortlisted titles:

British Library, 5th March

Blackwells Oxford, 6th March

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