The first EBRD Literature Prize, launched in 2017 by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in partnership with the British Council and the London Book Fair, announced its inaugural shortlist yesterday.
Worth €20,000, the prize provides a unique opportunity to reflect the culture and creativity of almost 40 countries where the Bank invests, from Morocco to Mongolia, from Estonia to Egypt. The prize will be awarded to the best work of literary fiction translated from the original language into English and published by a UK publisher in the 18 months up to 15 November 2017. Divided equally between author and translator, it champions the art of translation as well as the extraordinary richness, depth and variety of arts and history in the countries in the Bank’s region.
The judges have chosen six novels which they deem to be outstanding.
The six shortlisted titles are:
All the World’s a Stage by Boris Akunin (translated from the Russian by Andrew Bromfield, published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson),
Belladonna by Daša Drndic (translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth, published by Maclehose/ Quercus),
The Traitor’s Niche by Ismail Kadare (translated from the Albanian by John Hodgson, published by Penguin),
The Red-Haired Woman by Orhan Pamuk (translated from the Turkish by Ekin Oklap, published by Faber & Faber),
Istanbul Istanbul by Burhan Sönmez (translated from the Turkish by Ümit Hussein, published by Telegram Books),
Maryam: Keeper of Stories by Alawiya Sobh (translated from the Arabic by Nirvana Tanoukhi, published by Seagull Books),
Rosie Goldsmith, Chair of the Judges, said: Already I can predict this prize is here to stay. It’s different and it’s important. Our entries came from Armenia to Albania, the Baltics to the Balkans and beyond. This prize has broadened my mind and also my definition of the novel. We’ve read a Turkish feminist road novel, a love story from Beirut, a memoir from Morocco, a black comedy from Albania and a rollicking Russian satire – just a few of our entries, from established writers to those who deserve to be: the standard of storytelling and of translation is excellent and our winners will blow you away.
Colm Lincoln, EBRD Deputy Secretary General, commented: We hope that the EBRD Literature Prize will not only highlight the best of translated fiction from our region but also encourage publishers in the English-speaking world to give more prominence to the great stories told originally in Arabic, Turkish, the plethora of Slavic and other languages of our vast region. Too little is read in translation in English.
The first prize of €20,000 will be equally divided between the winning author and translator. Two runners-up and their translators will receive a prize of €1,000 each. The three finalist books will be announced in early March 2018. The winner will be announced in London at an award ceremony at the EBRD’s headquarters at One Exchange Square, London, on 10 April 2018, to coincide with the London Book Fair.
A special event will also be held at London Book Fair on 11 April 2018 which this year is showcasing books from the Baltic countries, one of the EBRD regions of operations.
The shortlist was selected from the following longlist, also announced for the first time today:
All the World’s a Stage by Boris Akunin (translated by Andrew Bromfield; Weidenfeld & Nicolson),
In the Name of the Father by Balla (translated by Julia Sherwood and Peter Sherwood; Jantar),
Belladonna by Daša Drndic (translated by Celia Hawkesworth; Maclehose/ Quercus),
About My Mother by Taher ben Jalloun (translated by Ros Schwartz and Lulu Norman; Telegram Books),
The Traitor’s Niche by Ismail Kadare (translated by John Hodgson; Penguin),
The Equestrienne by Uršul’a Kovalyk (translated by Julia Sherwood and Peter Sherwood; Parthian Books),
The Bickford Fuse by Andrey Kurkov (translated by Boris Dralyuk; Maclehose/ Quercus),
The Red-Haired Woman by Orhan Pamuk (translated by Ekin Oklap; Faber & Faber),
Istanbul Istanbul by Burhan Sönmez (translated by Ümit Hussein; Telegram Books),
Women Who Blow on Knots by Ece Temelkuran (translated by Alexander Dawe; Parthian Books),
Hair Everywhere by Tea Tulić (translated by Coral Petkovich; Istros Books),
Maryam: Keeper of Stories by Alawiya Sobh (translated by Nirvana Tanoukhi; Seagull Books).
About the judges:
Peter Frankopan is Professor of Global History at Oxford University, where he is also Senior Research Fellow at Worcester College, Oxford and Director of the Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research. He works on the history of the Mediterranean, Russia, the Middle East, Persia/Iran, Central Asia and beyond, and on relations between Christianity and Islam. His most recent book, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World, was an international number 1 bestseller.
Gabriel Gbadamosi is a poet, playwright, essayist and broadcaster. He was Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Creative and Performing Arts Fellow in European and African performance at the Pinter Centre, Goldsmiths, and a Judith E. Wilson Fellow for creative writing at Cambridge University. His London novel Vauxhall won the 2011 Tibor Jones Pageturner Prize. He lives in London and was Royal Literary Fund writing fellow at the City & Guilds of London Art School.
Lucy Hannah is a writer and producer, and founded Commonwealth Writers in 2011. Previously she produced radio and television factual programmes and drama in the UK and internationally. She has worked for a range of organisations on communication for development projects, mostly in areas of conflict and post-conflict, including South Sudan, Chechnya and Afghanistan. In the UK she has led a variety of Education Entertainment projects for ex-offenders and was the Arts Council writer-in-residence at HMP Rochester.
Rosie Goldsmith, Chair of the Judging Panel, is an award-winning journalist specialising in arts and current affairs in the UK and abroad, and champions international literature. In twenty years at the BBC, she reported from many regions including Russia and emerging Europe, Africa and the USA, covering events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of apartheid in South Africa, and presented flagship BBC programmes Front Row and Crossing Continents. She is Founder and Director of the European Literature Network which she combines with presenting and curating cultural events and festivals in Britain and overseas.
More information here.