PEN Translates award winners from 11 countries revealed

PEN Translates award winners from 11 countries revealed

Twelve books from 11 countries and 11 languages have won English PEN’s flagship translation awards, including the first novel from a Yemeni woman ever to be published in the UK, and the first novel by a Tibetan woman ever to be translated into English. 

The PEN Translates award-winners literary fiction, memoir, oral history, and illustrated children’s literature from a range of publishers, with Tilted Axis Press scoring two titles on the list. Also among the winners are Things I Didn't Throw Out by Marcin Wicha, translated from the Polish by Marta Dziurosz (Daunt Books), Our Dead Skin by Ecuadorian Natalia Garcia Freire, translated from the Spanish by Victor Meadowcroft (Oneworld) and Voices of the Nakba: The Making of an Archive by Canadian Diana Allan, translated from the Arabic by Hoda Adra (Pluto Press).

To date, 12 PEN Translates award-winning books have now featured on International Booker Prize longlists, and When We Cease to Understand the World (Pushkin Press) by Benjamín Labatut, translated from the Spanish by Adrian Nathan West and supported by PEN Translates, was shortlisted for the 2021 prize.

Books are selected for PEN Translates awards on the basis of outstanding literary quality, the strength of the publishing project, and "their contribution to UK bibliodiversity".

Will Forrester, translation and international manager at English PEN, said: "These 12 books are significant works of literature. They represent some of the most exciting literature in translation arriving into the UK market. Remarkable in variety of language, voice, form, subject and geography, they are united in being outstanding pieces of writing and translating. I would like to thank the selection panel for all their work in determining these awards. English PEN is thrilled to be helping these books get to readers, in a moment in which exceptional, internationalist and diverse literature is vital."

Ros Schwartz, co-chair of the English PEN translation advisory group, added: "It is exciting to see the ever-increasing diversity of languages being translated. Despite the tough economic climate, publishers are boldly seeking out new writing from around the globe, often brought to their attention by translators. English PEN is proud to support their efforts. Ultimately, it is readers who benefit from a richly diverse landscape."

The PEN Translates award winners in full:

  • Behind the Sun by Bushra Al-Maqtari, translated from the Arabic by Sawad Hussain (Tilted Axis Press). Country of origin: Yemen.
  • Voices of the Nakba: The Making of an Archive by Diana Allan, translated from the Arabic by Hoda Adra (Pluto Press). Country of origin: Canada.
  • Canzone di Guerra by Daša Drndić, translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth (Istros Books). Country of origin: UK.
  • Our Dead Skin by Natalia Garcia Freire, translated from the Spanish by Victor Meadowcroft (Oneworld Publications). Country of origin: Ecuador.
  • Strega by Johanne Lykke Holm, translated from the Swedish by Saskia Vogel (Lolli Editions). Country of origin: Denmark.
  • The Bankruptcy by Júlia Lopes de Almeida, translated from the Portuguese by Cintia Kozonoi Vezzani and Jason Rhys Parry (UCL Press). Country of origin: Brazil.
  • A Soldier's Song by Dónall Mac Amhlaigh, translated from the Irish by Mícheál Ó hAodha (Parthian Books). Country of origin: Ireland.
  • End of August by Yu Miri, translated from the Japanese by Morgan Giles (Tilted Axis Press). Country of origin: Japan.
  • Kolobok, translated from the Russian by Sian Valis (Fontanka). Country of origin: Russia.
  • Things I Didn't Throw Out by Marcin Wicha, translated from the Polish by Marta Dziurosz (Daunt Books Publishing). Country of origin: Poland.
  • Flowers of Lhasa by Tsering Yangkyi, translated from the Tibetan by Christopher Peacock (Balestier Press). Country of origin: China.
  • Cocoon by Zhang Yueran, translated from the Chinese by Jeremy Tiang (World Editions). Country of origin: China.