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Translation Prize Winners Announced

17 February 2016

Literary translation brings us together through the most human of characteristics: curiosity, contestation and compassion. At a time when the complexity of society seems confusing to many and threatening to some, being able to access thoughts and ideas that may seem alien at first, is crucial.

Karin Altenberg, judge of the Bernard Shaw Prize

We are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2015 Translation Prizes.

This year’s prizes honour the most accomplished works of translation into the English language from the Arabic, Dutch, French, German, Spanish and Swedish. The awards were presented by the judges at a ceremony held at Europe House on 17 February. A total of £11,000 and €5,000 was distributed to the winners.

The Society of Authors’ Translation Prizes celebrate individual talents and the importance of the art form. These winning books, spanning fiction, poetry and memoir, exemplify the importance of translators in unlocking voices and worlds with meticulous attention and stunning creativity.


Youssef Rakha's The Book of the Sultan's Seal trans. Paul StarkeyThe winner of the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for translation from the Arabic is Paul Starkey, for his translation of Youssef Rakha’s novel The Book of the Sultan’s Seal (Interlink).

Paul Starkey has risen magnificently to the many challenges involved in translating this landmark, genre-breaking novel…

The judges – Robin Ostle, Samira Kawar, Susannah Tarbush and Alistair Niven – also commended Jonathan Wright’s translation of Land of No Rain by Amjad Nasser (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation).

Read the full press release



Jenny Erpenbeck's The End of Days trans. Susan BernofskyThis year also marks the fifty-first Schlegel-Tieck Prize for translation from the German. The winner of the prize is Susan Bernofsky, for her translation of The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck (Portobello). The judges Emily Jeremiah and Benedict Schofield said:

The End of Days is a stunning piece of work: a tour de force in technical terms - Susan Bernofsky’s outstanding translation sweeps you along with an energy and an assurance that are highly impressive and that capture the boldness and originality of the German text.

Shaun Whiteside was commended for The Giraffe’s Neck by Judith Schalansky (Bloomsbury).

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Boualem Sansal's Harraga trans. Frank WynneThis is the fifty-first year that the Scott Moncrieff Prize for translation from the French has been presented. The winner is Frank Wynne, for his translation of Harraga by Boualem Sansal (Bloomsbury).

Judges Andrew Hussey and Michèle Roberts praised the collection:

Boualem Sansal's tensely dramatic story of two women's interwoven lives is beautifully rendered in Frank Wynne’s translation, while preserving all the rough elegance of the original.

David Bellos was commended for Portrait of a Man by George Perec (MacLehose).

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Javier Cercas' Outlaws trans. Anne McLeanThe winner of the Premio Valle Inclán for translation from the Spanish is Anne McLean for her translation of Outlaws by Javier Cercas (Bloomsbury). Judges John King and Jason Wilson said:

Anne McLean's splendid, convincing translation of Javier Cercas's compelling portrait of a teenage hoodlum, in post-Franco Spain, conveys with great subtlety and accuracy the shifting narrations and narrative tempo, the nuances of voice and of class difference and the evocations of urban landscapes and communities in the process of rapid change.

Margaret Jull Costa was also commended for the second consecutive year for her translation of Tristana by Benito Pérez Galdós (New York Review Books).

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Tove Jansson's The Listener trans. Thomas TealThis year’s winner of the Bernard Shaw Prize for translation from the Swedish is Thomas Teal for his translation of Tove Jansson’s The Listener (Sort of Books). Judges Karin Altenberg and B J Epstein praised the book:

With the empathy and insight of a true listener, Thomas Teal lets his translation follow the subtle grace and silences of Jansson's prose. This beautiful translation guides us through the skerries of the Finnish archipelago and brings us as close to Jansson's world as we can ever hope to get.

Sarah Death was also commended for her translation of A Brief Stop On The Road From Auschwitz (Granta) by Göran Rosenberg.

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Remco Campert's In Those Days trans. Donald GardnerThe Vondel Prize for translation from the Dutch has been awarded this year by judges David Colmer, Paul Binding and David McKay to two translators.

Donald Gardner received the award for his translation of In Those Days by Remco Campert. The judges said:

No sense of translation mars the effect of Remco Campert's poems as rendered so fluidly and feelingly by Donald Gardner. The landscape of a whole life is both painted and named specially - in a stirring, universalising way.


Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King trans. Laura WatkinsonLaura Watkinson also wins for her translation of Tonke Dragt’s The Letter for the King (Pushkin Press), with judges commenting that:

The Letter for the King is a test-and-quest narrative of quite outstanding humanity and beauty, and this translation, honouring the tension and pace of the novel, preserves what readers love about Dragt's prose in Dutch - the way it pulls you into the story, conveys a vivid sense of character and action, and moves the reader along at a fast clip.

Sam Garrett was commended for his translation of Arnon Grunberg’s Tirza (Open Letter).

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More about the Society of Authors’ Awards and Prizes



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