2014 Translation Prizes

Martin Reed

Martin Reed

Martin leads the SoA's Communications team. He oversees our strategic communications and campaign-based activities, including PR, social media, events and partnerships.

25 February 2015

Translators build bridges between authors and readers, between places and people and between different perspectives and imaginations – and those bridges are unique works of art in themselves. The Society of Authors’ Translation Prizes celebrate the best translation into English of literary works and we are delighted to announce the winners of the 2014 prizes.

The 2014 prizes were presented by Sir Peter Stothard, editor of the Times Literary Supplement, at a ceremony at Europe House on 25 February. A total of £12,000 was distributed for translations from the Arabic, French, German, Italian and Spanish. 
The winner of the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for translation from the Arabic is Sinan Antoon, for his translation of his own novel The Corpse Washer (Yale University Press).

This is only the second time in the Translation Prizes’ long history that a winner has been the author of the original work. The Corpse Washer is ‘a moving story of Jawad, a young Iraqi from a Shi’ite Muslim family that washes and prepares bodies for burial, and of the impact that war, occupation and civil strife have on him, his family and his friends is often grim, but Antoon’s meticulous portrayal conveys complex emotions through simple but powerful images.’

The judges – Paul Blezard-Gymer, Lulu Norman, Samuel Shimon and Jonathan Wright – also commended Paula Haydar’s ‘masterly’ translation of June Rain by Jabbour Douaihy (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation), ‘a novel centred on a massacre that took place in a mountain village in Lebanon in 1967 and its repercussions for the community.’

This is the fiftieth year that the Scott Moncrieff Prize for translation from the French has been presented. The winner is Rachel Galvin, for her translation of Hitting the Streets by Raymond Queneau (Carcanet Press).

Judges Andrew Hussey and Michèle Roberts praised the collection for its ‘shatteringly contemporary’ feel: ‘These poems lope, swerve and loop along like the poet himself walking the streets of Paris. This sparkling translation adroitly reinvents their surreal wit.’

Lulu Norman was commended for Horses of God by Mahi Binebine (Granta), ‘a powerful account of what it is like to live there in the shadow of a world in crisis.’

This is also the fiftieth year that the Schlegel-Tieck Prize for translation from the German has been awarded. The winner of the isJamie Bulloch, for his translation of The Mussel Feast by Birgit Vanderbeke (Peirene Press). Judges Emily Jeremiah and Johannes Kaminski said:

Jamie Bulloch’s translation displays real inventiveness, especially in its use of idiom, precisely and impressively capturing the tone of the narrative of this sly, subtle, and unnerving text about gender, family and power. A new work has been created, one with its own qualities and force.
Anthea Bell was commended for In Times of Fading Light by Eugen Ruge (Faber), a translation which ‘captures the dynamic quality of a magnificent – and rightly highly successful – novel about the fortunes of an East German family over fifty years’.

The John Florio Prize for translation from the Italian was awarded to the late Patrick Creagh for his translation of Memory Of The Abyssby Marcello Fois (MacLehose Press). Judges Guido Bonsaver and Laura Rorato said:

Memory of the Abyss captures beautifully the multi-layered nature of the original text, which uses the fictionalised life story of the Sardinian bandit Samuele Stochino (known as the Tiger of Ogliastra) to comment on various social issues, human nature and the harshness of the Sardinian countryside.
Cristina Viti was commended for A Life Apart by Mariapia Veladiano(MacLehose Press), a ‘psychological novel [that] demanded a translation capable of reproducing the subtle explorations and associations of the original text whilst maintaining the rhythm of the prose style’.

The winner of the Premio Valle Inclán for translation from the Spanish is Nick Caistor, for his translation of An Englishman in Madrid by Eduardo Mendoza (MacLehose Press). Judges John King and Jason Wilson said:

Mendoza’s comic novel presents an English art historian all at sea politically and personally in Spain on the eve of the Civil War. Nick Caistor’s splendid translation captures every nuance of this vibrant work.
Margaret Jull Costa was also commended for her translation of a murder mystery set in the world of publishing; The Infatuations by Javier Marías(Hamish Hamilton): ‘The elegant translation meets all the demands of a novel that offers an absorbing plot mapped out in complex and challenging literary form.’
Listen to a recording of the 2014 Translation Prizes ceremony here. 

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