The shortlists for the Society of Authors’ 2019 Translation Prizes have been revealed, seeing 35 translated works from nine different languages put into the running for almost £20,000 in prizes.
Across seven shortlists, announced on Sunday 1st December, works were hailed “vivid”, “intense”, “compelling”, and “seeming to accomplish the impossible”. They comprised translations from languages German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Dutch, and Hebrew.
The winners in each category will be awarded in a ceremony at The British Library Knowledge Centre on Wednesday 12th February 2020.
Independent publisher And Other Stories has two chances to win the TA First Translation Prize, a £2,000 prize shared between translator and editor. Sarah Booker and editor Lauren Rosemary Hook are shortlisted for their “deftly captured” translation from the Spanish of The Iliac Crest by Cristina Rivera Garza (And Other Stories) while Charlotte Whittle and editor Bella Bosworth are up for the “beautifully translated, surreal classic of Argentinean literature”, People in the Room by Norah Langé (And Other Stories).
With translations from Spanish making up half the shortlist, Ellen Jones and editors Fionn Petch and Carolina Orloff are shortlisted for a translation of Trout, Belly Up by Rodrigo Fuentes (Charco Press). Translations of books from Asia make up the other half of the shortlist, recognising Natascha Brice and editor Jeremy Tiang for a translation of Lonely Face by Yeng Pway Ngon (Balestier Press) from Chinese (Singapore); William Spence and editor Tomasz Hoskins for a translation of The Promise: Love and Loss in Modern China by XinRan Xue (I B Tauris) from Mandarin; and Morgan Giles and editor Saba Ahmed for a translation of Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri (Tilted Axis Press) from Japanese.
Jessica Cohen, whose translation of Israeli writer David Grossman's A Horse Walks Into a Bar (Vintage) won the Man Booker International Prize in 2017, is recognised for her “version of [Grossman’s] scorching, soaring words” on the shortlist of the triennially awarded TLS-Risa Domb/Porjes Prize, a £2,000 award for the English translation of a full-length Hebrew book. Joining her are: Nicholas de Lange for a translation of Judas by Amos Oz (Vintage); Peter C. Appleaum for a translation of Hell on Earth by Avigdor Hameiri (Wayne State University Press); and Rachel Tzvia Back for a translation of On the Surface of Silence by Lea Goldberg (Hebrew Union College Press)
The Schlegel-Tieck Prize, an annual award of £3,000 for translations into English of full-length German works, shortlisted two books from Seagull Books – Karen Leeder's translation of Thick of It by Ulrike Almut Sandig and Simon Pare’s translation of The Flying Mountain by Christoph Ransmayr. They are up against Margot Bettauer Dembo’s translation of The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers (Virago Press), Iain Galbraith’s “detailed, attentive” translation of River by Esther Kinsky (Fitzcarraldo Editions), Damion Searls’ “sensitive and evocative” translation of Anniversaries: From Year in the Life of Cresspahl by Uwe Johnson (New York Review Books) and Katy Derbyshire’s translation of Gentleman Jack by Angela Steidele (Serpent’s Tail), which the judges said “moves effortlessly between the registers and voices that tell Lister's story”.
A book from Dialogue Books’ stables is in the running for The Scott Moncrieff Prize, a £1,000 award for translations into English of full-length French works: Linda Coverdale’s translation of The Old Slave and the Mastiff by Patrick Chamoiseau (Dialogue Books). The judges called it “illuminating as it is beautiful” and “much more than a translation”. Penny Hueston’s translation of a dystopian feminist thriller Our Life in the Forest by Marie Darrieussecq (Text Publishing) also competes, alongside Adriana Hunter’s translation of Women at Sea by Catherine Poulain (Jonathan Cape), Tina Kover’s translation of debut Disoriental by Négar Djavadi (Europa Editions), Geoffrey Strachan’s translation of Tropic of Violence by Nathacha Appanah (MacLehose Press) that "draws out the harshness and precarious quality of life in the French Indian Ocean territories”, and David Warriner’s translation of We Were the Salt of the Sea by Roxanne Bouchard (Orenda Books).
A prize for translations from Spanish, the £2,000 Premio Valle Inclan Prize shortlisted: Nick Caistor, for a “beautiful, lucid” translation of Springtime in a Broken Mirror by Uruguayan author Mario Benedetti (Penguin Classics); Charlotte Coombe for a “sparky, lively” translation of Fish Soup by Margarita García Robayo (Charco Press); William Gregory for a translation of The Oberon Anthology of Contemporary Spanish Plays by Borja Ortiz de Gondra, Blanca Doménech, Víctor Sánchez Rodríguez, Vanessa Montfort, and Julio Escalada (Oberon Books); Sophie Hughes for a translation of The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zeran (And Other Stories); and Jessica Sequeira for a translation of Land of Smoke by Sara Gallardo (Pushkin Press) the judges said “beautifully recreates the quirky edginess and constant ability to surprise”.
Books from Faber & Faber and Granta Books make appearances on the shortlist for the prize for translations from Ararbic, the £3,000 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize. Leri Price is shortlisted for the translation of Death is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa (Faber & Faber), commended “beautifully written and subtly translated” – so much so the work “feels almost one of dual authorship”. Jonathan Wright is shortlisted for a “perfectly seamless and bold” translation of Jokes for the Gunman by Mazen Maarouf (Granta Books). The other competitors are Marilyn Booth for a translation of Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi (Sandstone Press) and Humphrey Davies for a translation of My Name is Adam: Children of the Ghetto Volume 1 by Elias Khoury (MacLehose).
The Vondel Prize, a biennial award of €5000 for translation into English of full-length Dutch language works, gives MacLehose Press its third nomination across the seven shortlists, with David Doherty shortlisted for a translation of Monte Carlo by Peter Terrin (MacLehose Press). Pushkin Press and Text Publishing both get a second book in the running with the shortlisting of Antoinette Fawcett’s translation of Bird Cottage by Eva Meijer (Pushkin Press), praised for “bringing a book home in translation”, and Nancy Forest-Flier’s translation of The Story of Shit by Midas Dekkers (Text Publishing), described “resourceful and intelligent, echoing the author’s wry tone and inimitable exuberance throughout”. Michele Hutchison rounds off the category, recognised for her “sure-footed, propulsive” translation of Stage Four by Sander Kollaard (Amazon Crossing).