15 books from 14 countries win English PEN Translates award

English PEN has announced 15 books from 14 countries that won English PEN’s flagship translation awards.

According to The Bookseller, the winners from as many publishers and 10 languages include novels, short story collections, crime, poetry, an illustrated memoir, a graphic novel and – for the first time – a title from Mali. 

Among the awarded titles is the first memoir by a Sudanese woman to be translated from Arabic to English.

The outlet says that books are selected for PEN Translates awards on the basis of outstanding literary quality, the strength of the publishing project, and their contribution to UK bibliodiversity.

This year’s winners include Home by Andrea Tompa, translated from Hungarian by Jozefina Komporaly (Istros Books); Cade la Terra by Carmen Pellegrino, translated from Italian by Shaun Whiteside (Prototype Publishing) and Living Things by Munir Hachemi, translated from Spanish by Julia Sanches (Fitzcarraldo Editions). 

See full list below:

Home by Andrea Tompa, translated from Hungarian by Jozefina Komporaly (Istros Books). Country of origin: Hungary.

Cade la Terra by Carmen Pellegrino, translated from Italian by Shaun Whiteside (Prototype Publishing). Country of origin: Italy.

Living Things by Munir Hachemi, translated from Spanish by Julia Sanches (Fitzcarraldo Editions). Country of origin: Spain.

Venom by Saneh Sangsuk, translated from Thai by Mui Poopoksakul (Peirene Press). Country of origin: Thailand.

The Gospel According To by Sergey Khazov-Cassia, translated from Russian by Reuben Woolley (Polari Press). Country of origin: Latvia.

Of Cattle and Men by Ana Paula Maia, translated from Portuguese by Zoe Perry (Charco Press). Country of origin: Brazil.

Yoghurt and Jam (or how my mother became Lebanese) by Lena Merhej, translated from Arabic by Nadiyah Abdullatif and Anam Zafar (Balestier Press). Country of origin: Lebanon.

Woman of the Rivers by Ishraga Mustafa, translated from Arabic by Sawad Hussain (Dar Arab). Country of origin: Sudan.

Headless in Kita by Moussa Konaté, translated from French by Susan Pickford (Dedalus Africa). Country of origin: Mali.

The Art of Memory by Mercedes Núñez Targa, translated from Spanish by Nick Caistor and Faye Williams (Pluto Press). Country of origin: Spain.

A Tower Built Downwards by Yang Lian, translated from Chinese by Brian Holton (Bloodaxe Books Ltd). Country of origin: China.

Pink Slime by Fernanda Trías, translated from Spanish by Heather Cleary (Scribe UK). Country of origin: Uruguay.

The Incredible Events in Women’s Cell Number Three by Kira Yarmysh, translated from Russian by Archibald Tait (Serpent’s Tail, an imprint of Profile Books Ltd). Country of origin: Lithuania.

My Port of Beirut by Lamia Ziadé, translated from French by Emma Ramadan (Pluto Press). Country of origin: France.

Zekameron by Maxim Znak, translated from Russian/Belarusian by Jim Dingley (Scotland Street Press). Country of origin: Belarus. 

Will Forrester, translation and international manager at English PEN, said: “The ambition, originality, and variety of works submitted to this round of PEN Translates both warmed the heart and made reaching a final portfolio near-impossible; that ambition, originality, and variety is reflected in the 15 significant works of literature our panel have ultimately selected.

“We have a graphic novel from Lebanon, a pioneering work of memoir from Sudan, a series of courageous dissident works written in exile, Hong Kong poetry, crime fiction from Mali and more, on their way into English-language readers’ hands. We’re delighted to have been able to support these projects, from publishers who are continuing to publish bravely despite our current economic climate.”

So Mayer, co-chair of the English PEN translation advisory group, said: “This PEN Translates round is a brilliant reflection of the breadth of UK publishing in translation, showcasing a graphic novel memoir from Lebanon, cosy crime fiction from Mali, feminist activism from Sudan, animal and workers’ rights fiction from Spain and Brazil, and feminist climate fiction from Uruguay.

“Awarding 15 titles across 10 languages, it particularly highlights the work of small publishers investing in books in still-underrepresented languages such as Thai, Hungarian and Belarusian. Alongside the award for a Belarusian prison memoir, there are awards for poetry by Yang Liang that could not be published in China, and for bold novels dealing with themes of gender and sexuality by two acclaimed Russian authors, as PEN continues its charter commitment to writers facing censorship worldwide.”

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