Winners Announced in Georgia’s 2016 Saba Prize

In News by Dennis Abrams

With its Literary Debut of the Year award chosen by readers through various social media, The Saba Prize slate has 10 categories.
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By Dennis Abrams | @DennisAbrams2

Prizes Include Translations, Collections
From a report in Agenda.ge, we learn that the winners of Georgia’s leading literary contest have been announced.

The Saba Literary Prize, founded in 2003, honors the nation’s best authors, translators, and critics “for their efforts in developing the nation’s literature,” and is awarded to authors of prose, poetry, documentary writing, and more.

Lyn Coffin

Lyn Coffin

Among this year’s winners is American playwright and author Lyn Coffin, whose translation of the 12th Century Georgian epic The Knight in the Panther’s Skin was named best foreign translation of Georgian work.

Coffin, whose translation was published by Tbilisi-based Poezia Press, said that her work is the first “rhythmic, metaphoric, poetic translation” into English of Shota Rusaveli’s major medieval poem.

The American poet is the author of more than 20 books in fiction, drama and poetry, with work appearing in The Best American Short Stories anthology.

As Agenda.ge reports, Coffin adds that she had received the assistance of Georgian scholars for her translation project, and had “translated as a poet,” unlike previous translators, who had simply “translated words or meaning.”

And in a novel approach to this year’s awards, it was readers themselves who determined the winners of the prize for the Literary Debut of the Year through voting via social media.

The public’s favorite prize went to Salome Makaridze for her poetry debut Us. Film director Nana Ekvtimishvili (The Pear-Tree Madow) and novelist Iunona Guruli (Diagnosis) were also awarded.

Saba Literary Prize 2016 Winners
  • Novel of the Year: Escapees from Heaven by Beka Kurkhuli, Expected Unexpectedness by Zurab Samadashvili;
  • Debut of the Year: Us by Salome Makaridze, The Pear-Tree Madow by Nana Ekvtimishvili, Diagnosis by Iunona Guruli;
  • Essay and Documentary Prose of the Year: Irakli Parjiani and the Metaphysics of a Meeting by Zaza Piralishvili;
  • Poetry Collection of the Year: A Crow Passes Evening on Treetop by Besik Kharanauli;
  • Prose Collection of the Year: Junker Eristavi’s Boots by Zaal Samadashvili;
  • Digital Book of the Year: Lazare by Otar Jirkvalishvili;
  • Literary Critique of the Year: 20 Georgian Novels by Tamaz Vasadze;
  • Georgian Translation of Foreign Work of the Year: The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles, translated by Tamar Japaridze;
  • Foreign Translation of Georgian Work of the Year: The Knight in the Panther Skin by Lyn Coffin;
  • Special Contribution to Development of Literature: Tariel Tchanturia.

Prizes were awarded by a jury of five judges who revealed winners through voting–three votes were needed to award a prize to a contestant.

The jury panel is changed yearly and includes previously awarded Saba Literary Prize winners. The award was established in 2003 by TBC Bank and the PEn Center with a goal of recognizing and honoring the best of the previous year’s literature.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.