The €20,000 EBRD Literature Prize, launched by the British Council and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), has revealed its inaugural shortlist, including titles from Turkey, Croatia, Russia, Albania and Lebanon.
Launched in 2017, the prize will be awarded to the year’s best work of literary fiction translated into English and originally written in any language of the EBRD’s 37 countries of operations, coming from a UK publisher.
The six shortlisted titles are All the World’s a Stage by Boris Akunin (translated by Andrew Bromfield from Russian, Weidenfeld & Nicolson), Belladonna by Daša Drndic (translated by Celia Hawkesworth from Croatian, Maclehose/ Quercus), The Traitor’s Niche by Ismail Kadare (translated by John Hodgson from Albanian, Penguin), The Red-Haired Woman by Orhan Pamuk (translated by Ekin Oklap from Turkey, Faber & Faber), Istanbul Istanbul by Burhan Sönmez (translated by Ümit Hussein from Turkish, Telegram Books), and Maryam: Keeper of Stories by Alawiya Sobh (translated by Nirvana Tanoukhi from Arabic, Seagull Books).
Chair of the judges is broadcaster and journalist Rosie Goldsmith, joined on the judging panel by historian Peter Frankopan, who is based at Oxford’s Worcester College, poet and writer, Gabriel Gbadamosi, and Lucy Hannah, a producer and writer, who founded the Commonwealth Writers programme.
Goldsmith 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, said: “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 EBRD headquarters at One Exchange Square, London, on 10th April 2018, on the eve of London Book Fair. An event will also be held at London Book Fair on 11th April 2018 which this year is showcasing books from the Baltic countries, one of the EBRD regions of operations.