The UK’s Society of Authors’ £13,000 Translation Prize Shortlists for 2020

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The 2020 Translated Literature winner of the US National Book Awards was among this group of translation prizes for 2019 in London. The 2020 group has a total 35 titles shortlisted.

At London’s Oxford Circus station on November 22. Image – iStockphoto: Chris Dorney

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Winners’ Announcement on February 11
As the autumn tidal wave of publishing and book awards rolls on, you’ll remember our coverage last week of the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Translation.

That program is, in fact, one of six translation awards annually administered by the United Kingdom’s Society of Authors as part of a much larger portfolio of award programs the writers’ union handles. Today (December 1), we look at the other five honors’ shortlists currently in the translation group.

Including the Banipal, there are 35 shortlisted translations into English from six other languages, with a total £13,000 (US$17,379) in play for winners of these awards.

The society, in fact, is a trade union that handles many more prize programs than this, carrying in 2020 alone some £120,000 (US$159,994) in prizes for various competitions in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, as well as translation.

With Sharon Braithwaite and Emma Reynolds reporting for CNN that researchers say coronavirus cases dropped some 30 percent during the UK’s second national lockdown—just giving way this week to the tiered system of restrictions—official estimates are that one in 100 members of the population has COVID-19.

At this writing, the 7:25 a.m. ET (1225 GMT) update of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center sees 1,633,734 cases in the British population of 67 million, with 58,545 fatalities. These numbers put the UK at seventh in the world for caseload and fifth in the world for deaths.

The winners of this group of awards are to be named on February 11, and you can review our coverage of the winners of last year’s translation group here.

The TA First Translation Award’s New Coup

Before we get to this year’s shortlists, it’s worth pointing out that a very young prize in this cluster of awards has shown some distinct muscle recently.

In last year’s article, you’ll see that the translator Morgan Giles and editor Saba Ahmed won the TA First Translation Award, the prize created by translator Daniel Hahn to honor emerging translators and their editors. The winning translation was of Yu Miri’s Tokyo Ueno Station, published in the United Kingdom by Tilted Axis Press.

And last month, Giles and Yu would go on to win the National Book Award’s Translated Literature prize in the United States for that work. Tokyo Ueno Station in the States is published by Penguin Random House’s Riverhead.

In this year’s Society of Authors translation awards, you’ll see that editor Saba Ahmed is again shortlisted, this time for translator Nicholas Glastonbury’s work on Sema Kaygusuz’s Every Fire You Tend, also from Tilted Axis Press. In this case, the translation is from Turkish.

We’ll start this time with the TA First Translation Award’s shortlist, in recognition of its good work in pointing up the work of strong translators new to the field.

The TA First Translation Prize 2020 Shortlist

This is an annual £2,000 (US$2.681) prize for a debut literary translation into English published in the UK. The prize is shared between the translator and her or his editor—a distinctive attribute of this award’s format.

This year’s jurors are Maureen Freely, Max Porter, and the prize’s founder, Daniel Hahn.

  • Translator Laura Francis and editor Ka Bradley for a translation of The Collection by Nina Leger (Granta Books). Translated from French
  • Translator Annie McDermott and editor Lizzie Davis for a translation of Empty Words by Mario Levrero (And Other Stories). Translated from Spanish
  • Translator Nicholas Glastonbury and editor Saba Ahmed for a translation of Every Fire You Tend by Sema Kaygusuz (Tilted Axis Press). Translated from Turkish
  • Translator Ruth Diver and editor Elise Williams for a translation of The Little Girl on the Ice Floe by Adélaïde Bon (MacLehose Press). Translated from French
  • Translator Nicholas Royle and editor Tim Shearer for a translation of Pharricide by Vincent de Swarte (Confingo Publishing). Translated from French
  • Translator Owen Good and editor Bishan Samaddar for a translation of Pixel by Krisztina Tóth (Seagull Books). Translated from Hungarian
The John Florio Prize 2020 Shortlist

This is a biennial award of £2,000 (US$2.681) for translations into English of full-length Italian works of general interest.

This year’s jurors are Robert Gordon and Rosa Mucignat.

  • Anne Milano Appel for a translation of A Devil Comes to Town by Paolo Maurensig (World Edition)
  • Ekin Oklap for a translation of Flowers Over the Inferno by Ilaria Tuti (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
  • Jenny McPhee for a translation of The Kremlin Ball by Curzio Malaparte (New York Review Books)
  • Taije Silverman and Marina Della Putta Johnston for a translation of Selected Poems of Giovanni Pascoli by Giovanni Pascoli (Princeton University Press)
  • Howard Curtis for a translation of Soul of the Border by Matteo Righetto (Pushkin Press)
  • Jhumpa Lahiri for a translation of Trick by Domenico Starnone (Europa Editions)
The Premio Valle Inclán 2020 Shortlist

This is an annual prize of £2,000 (US$2.681) for translations into English of full-length Spanish language works of general interest.

This year’s jurors are Imogen Choi and James Womack. 

  • Richard Gwyn for a translation of Impossible Loves by Darío Jaramillo (Carcanet Poetry)
  • Abigail Parry and Serafina Vick for a translation of A Little Body are Many Parts by Legna Rodríguez Iglesias (Bloodaxe Books)
  • Anne McLean for a translation of Lord of All the Dead by Javier Cercas (MacLehose Press)
  • Margaret Jull Costa and Sophie Hughes for a translation of Mac and His Problem by Enrique Vila-Matas (Vintage, PRH)
  • Megan McDowell for a translation of Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin (Oneworld)
  • Katherine Silver for a translation of The Word of the Speechless by Julio Ramón Ribeyro (New York Review Books)
The Schlegel-Tieck Prize 2020 Shortlist

This is an annual award of £3,000 (US$4,017) for translations into English of full-length German works of general interest.

This year’s jurors are Steffan Davies and Dora Osborne.

  • Joel Agee for a translation of Agathe: Or, the Forgotten Sister by Robert Musil (New York Review Books)
  • Imogen Taylor for a translation of Beside Myself by Sasha Marianna Salzmann (Text Publishing)
  • Karen Leeder for a translation of The Sex of the Angels, the Saints in their Heaven by Raoul Schrott (Seagull Book)
  • Sinead Crowe and Rachel McNicholl for a translation of The Storyteller by Pierre Jarawan (World Editions)
  • Martyn Crucefix for a translation of These Numbered Days by Peter Huchel (Shearsman Books)
  • Jamie Bulloch for a translation of You Would Have Missed Me by Birgit Vanderbeke (Peirene Press)
The Scott Moncrieff Prize 2020 Shortlist

This is an annual award of £1,000 (US$1,339) for translations into English of full-length French works of general interest.

This year’s judges are Aude Campmas and  Peter Dunwoodie.

  • Frank Wynne for a translation of Animalia by Jean-Baptiste del Amo (Fitzcarraldo Editions)
  • Geoffrey Strachan for a translation of The Archipelago of Another Life by Andreï Makine (MacLehose Press)
  • Jordan Stump for a translation of The Cheffe by Marie NDiaye (MacLehose Press)
  • Aneesa Abbas Higgins for a translation of A Girl Called Eel by Ali Zamir (Jacaranda Books)
  • Mark Hutchinson for a translation of The Governesses by Anne Serre (Les Fugitives)
  • Natasha Lehrer for a translation of Memories of Low Tide by Chantal Thomas (Pushkin Press)

Again, our  coverage of the sixth of these awards, the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize, is here.


More from Publishing Perspectives on translation is here. More from us on publishing and book awards programs is here, and more on the UK market is here.

More on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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