The Society of Authors’ Translation Prizes celebrate individual talents and the importance of the art form. These winning books, spanning fiction and poetry, exemplify the importance of translators in unlocking voices and worlds with meticulous attention and stunning creativity.
This year’s prizes honour the most accomplished works of translation into the English language from the Arabic, German, French, Swedish, Spanish and Dutch. The awards were presented by the judges at a ceremony held at Europe House on 17 February. A total of £11,000 and €5,000 was distributed to the winners.
The winner of the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for translation from the Arabic is Paul Starkey, for his translation of Youssef Rakha’s novel The Book of the Sultan’s Seal (Interlink). Paul Starkey has risen magnificently to the many challenges involved in translating this landmark, genre-breaking novel…
The judges – Robin Ostle, Samira Kawar, Susannah Tarbush and Alistair Niven – also commended Jonathan Wright’s translation of Land of No Rain by Amjad Nasser (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation).
This year also marks the fifty-first Schlegel-Tieck Prize for translation from the German. The winner of the prize is Susan Bernofsky, for her translation of The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck (Portobello). The judges Emily Jeremiah and Benedict Schofield said: ‘The End of Days’ is a stunning piece of work: a tour de force in technical terms – Susan Bernofsky’s outstanding translation sweeps you along with an energy and an assurance that are highly impressive and that capture the boldness and originality of the German text.
Shaun Whiteside was commended for The Giraffe’s Neck by Judith Schalansky (Bloomsbury).
This is the fifty-first year that the Scott Moncrieff Prize for translation from the French has been presented. The winner is Frank Wynne, for his translation of Harraga by Boualem Sansal (Bloomsbury). Judges Andrew Hussey and Michèle Roberts praised the collection: Boualem Sansal’s tensely dramatic story of two women’s interwoven lives is beautifully rendered in Frank Wynne’s translation, while preserving all the rough elegance of the original.
David Bellos was commended for Portrait of a Man by George Perec (MacLehose).
This year’s winner of the Bernard Shaw Prize for translation from the Swedish is Thomas Teal for his translation of Tove Jansson’s The Listener (Sort of Books). Judges Karin Altenberg and B J Epstein praised the book: With the empathy and insight of a true listener, Thomas Teal lets his translation follow the subtle grace and silences of Jansson’s prose. This beautiful translation guides us through the skerries of the Finnish archipelago and brings us as close to Jansson’s world as we can ever hope to get.
Sarah Death was also commended for her translation of A Brief Stop On The Road From Auschwitz (Granta) by Göran Rosenberg.
The winner of the Premio Valle Inclán for translation from the Spanish is Anne McLean for her translation of Outlaws by Javier Cercas (Bloomsbury). Judges John King and Jason Wilson said: Anne McLean’s splendid, convincing translation of Javier Cercas’s compelling portrait of a teenage hoodlum, in post-Franco Spain, conveys with great subtlety and accuracy the shifting narrations and narrative tempo, the nuances of voice and of class difference and the evocations of urban landscapes and communities in the process of rapid change.
Margaret Jull Costa was commended for her translation of Tristana by Benito Pérez Galdós (New York Review Books).
The Vondel Prize for translation from the Dutch has been awarded this year by judges David Colmer, Paul Binding and David McKay to two translators.
Donald Gardner received the award for his translation of In Those Days by Remco Campert. The judges said: No sense of translation mars the effect of Remco Campert’s poems as rendered so fluidly and feelingly by Donald Gardner. The landscape of a whole life is both painted and named specially – in a stirring, universalising way.
Laura Watkinson also wins for her translation of Tonke Dragt’s The Letter for the King (Pushkin Press), with judges commenting that: ‘The Letter for the King’ is a test-and-quest narrative of quite outstanding humanity and beauty, and this translation, honouring the tension and pace of the novel, preserves what readers love about Dragt’s prose in Dutch — the way it pulls you into the story, conveys a vivid sense of character and action, and moves the reader along at a fast clip.
Sam Garrett was commended for his translation of Arnon Grunberg’s Tirza (Open Letter).
For more information contact Paula Johnson at the Society of Authors on PJohnson@societyofauthors.org or 020 7373 6642.