Nobel laureate Tokarczuk shortlisted for Warwick Prize

Nobel laureate Tokarczuk shortlisted for Warwick Prize

Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk has been shortlisted for the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation for the second year running, for her literary crime novel Drive Your Plough Over the Bones of the Dead. The novel – her second with Fitzcarraldo Editions – is translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, “a tireless advocate for Polish literature” who returns to the shortlist for the third time. 

The annual £1,000 prize, honouring a translated work by a female author published in English by a UK-based or Irish publisher, was set up in 2017 to help address gender imbalance in translated literature. This year it saw eligible entries almost double.

Also shortlisted are: Disoriental by Négar Djavadi, translated from French by Tina Kover (Europa Editions, 2018); Katalin Street by Magda Szabó, translated from Hungarian by Len Rix (Maclehose Press, 2019); Negative of a Group Photograph by Azita Ghahreman, translated from Farsi by Maura Dooley with Elhum Shakerifar (Bloodaxe and The Poetry Translation Centre, 2018); People in the Room by Norah Lange, translated from Spanish by Charlotte Whittle (And Other Stories, 2018); and The Years by Annie Ernaux, translated from French by Alison L. Strayer (Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2018).

According to the prize’s co-ordinator, Dr Chantal Wright of the University of Warwick, there was “a significant degree of harmony between the judges’ individual shortlists” this year. Judging the prize are Amanda Hopkinson, Boyd Tonkin, and Susan Bassnett. 

The six-strong shortlist was whittled down from a longlist of 13 and in total represents five different source languages – Farsi, French, Hungarian, Polish and Spanish (Argentina). In the mix are four novels, one collection of poetry and a memoir. The titles on the shortlist "reflect on wars and displacement, change and adaptation", said Hopkinson, adding that the chosen shortlist "well illustrates how memory does not recall chronologically, nor does it conform to historical norms".

Polish author Tokarczuk was last year shortlisted by the Warwick Prize for her 2018 Man Booker International-winning novel Flights, translated by Jennifer Croft. As well as seeing Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead again make the Man Booker International shortlist and the Warwick Prize shortlist this year, this month she was awarded 2018’s Nobel Prize in Literature. In the Academy’s words, she was recognised for “a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life”. Her publisher Jacques Testard at Fitzcarraldo Editions credited her a “special writer” with “incredible range”, describing Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, translated by Lloyd-Jones, “a sly subversion of noir”. 

The winner of the £1,000 Warwick Prize will be announced in an evening ceremony at The Shard in London on 20th November.