Three novels have been unveiled as the finalists of the inaugural EBRD Literature Prize, including a Croatian book from Quercus, a Saqi title translated from Turkish and a Russian novel from Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
The prize was launched last September by the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in partnership with the British Council and the London Book Fair to celebrate the “extraordinary richness” of the culture and history of the bank’s countries.
The three finalists are: "literary romp" All the World’s a Stage by Boris Akunin (translated by Andrew Bromfield from Russian, Weidenfeld & Nicolson), the "unflinching" novel of ideas Belladonna by Daša Drndic (translated by Celia Hawkesworth from Croatian, Maclehose/ Quercus) and "witty" prison tale Istanbul Istanbul by Burhan Sönmez (translated by Ümit Hussein from Turkish, Saqi imprint Telegram Books).
The news comes a month after the six-strong shortlist was revealed.
Multilateral development bank, EBRD, was created after the fall of the Berlin wall to help emerging economies move towards open markets. It launched the prize in recognition of the vibrancy of its region’s literature. It will be awarded to the best work of literary fiction originally written in a language from one of the 37 economies where the bank invests, translated into English and published by a UK publisher.
The winner will receive the top prize of €20,000, split evenly between the author and the translator, and the two runner-up titles will receive €2,000, similarly divided.
Journalist and broadcaster Rosie Goldsmith, chair of the judges, described the finalists as “astonishingly good reads” and that the judges were “unanimous”.
She said: “These three novels form a perfect trio of great craft, insight and originality. Belladonna is an unflinching but brilliant and beautiful novel of ideas. Istanbul Istanbul provides a witty, wonderful and wise window on the world and on our flawed humanity but without leaving the prison cell.
“And All The World’s A Stage is a thrillingly entertaining, informative and literary romp through Russian history.”
Fellow judges include 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.
The winner will be announced at EBRD headquarters at One Exchange Square, on 10th April to coincide with the first day of London Book Fair. Open to the public, it is billed as a “unique opportunity” to see all three finalist authors and translators discussing their books and the art of translation before the award is announced.
An accompanying event will also be held on 11th April 2018 at 11.30am at the fair, which this year is showcasing books from the Baltic countries, one of the EBRD regions of operations.