Fitzcarraldo Editions has been awarded the Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses for Animalia by Jean-Baptiste Del Amo, translated by Frank Wynne – but the £10,000 prize will be shared among all five shortlistees this year "to support all of the publishers on the shortlist in what is an extremely difficult time for small businesses and freelances".
The judges selected the translation of Animalia to be this year's winner, saying Wynne had done "a masterful job" of capturing author Jean-Baptiste Del Amo’s "rich, lyrical and inventive style". The book itself – exploring the trials of a peasant farming family in France across five generations – was hailed "a savage and brutal book, replete with sex and violence, which is also spellbinding, strange and immersive".
The win makes Fitzcarraldo the first press to win the Republic of Consciousness Prize twice, after taking home the inaugural prize in 2017 for Counternarratives by John Keene. It is also the first translated book to win the prize.
The prize pot is half-funded by the University of East Anglia through its Publishing Project. In addition to Fitzcarraldo Editions, the shortlisted publishers comprised: Dostoyevsky Wannabe, for We Are Made Of Diamond Stuff by Isabel Waidner; And Other Stories, for Love by Hanne Ørstavik, translated by Martin Aitken; the87press, for Broken Jaw by Minoli Salgado; and Galley Beggar Press, for Patience by Toby Litt. They will all receive £2,000
"Given said times, we’re sharing the prize money out equally between five small presses, but this year it was felt there could only be one winner," said Neil Griffiths, founder of the prize.
"There is much to say about Animalia, but given the current global situation, it is timely indeed to have a book that is preoccupied with our bodies as a physical organism. Covid-19 doesn’t care about our minds, our rationality, our creativity; it has no interest in us as human beings: it is virus that is transmitted from one animal to another animal. If the coronavirus levels us because we’re all susceptible, Animalia reminds us why."
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