AWARDS/HONOURS/RECOGNITIONS

EBRD Literature Prize 2021: Judges Announced, Open For Submissions

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By Jane Ross

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the EBRD, today announces the launch of the EBRD Literature Prize 2021, in cooperation with the British Council.

The Prize celebrates the rich cultures of the regions where the Bank works, regions that stretch from central Europe to central Asia as well as the southern and eastern Mediterranean and northern Africa.

The EBRD Literature Prize 2021 will be awarded to both writer and translator for the best work of literary fiction (including collections of short stories by a single author) translated into English, written originally in any language of the EBRD’s countries of operations and published for the first time by a European (including UK) publisher in the period captured by the Prize.

Now in its fourth year, the EBRD Literature Prize has gained increasing recognition, attention and visibility amongst the media, the publishing industry and the reading public. The Prize not only rewards the writer who brings stories from these diverse countries to life, but just as importantly it acknowledges the vital role that the translator plays in making these stories accessible to English-speaking audiences. The first prize, worth €20,000(US$23,310.90), will be equally divided between the winning author and translator. The two runner-up books will receive a prize of €4,000 each, again equally split between author and translator.

The EBRD Literature Prize is chaired for the first time by Toby Lichtig, writer, critic and Fiction and Politics Editor of the Times Literary Supplement, as well as former chair of judges for the 2018 JQ-Wingate Prize and a jury member of the 2019 EU Prize for Literature.

Toby is joined on the independent panel of judges for the EBRD Literature Prize 2021 by:

Anna Aslanyan, freelance journalist and translator from Russian; regular contributor to London Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement (TLS); and author of the forthcoming popular history of translation, Dancing on Ropes: Translators and the Balance of History (Profile Books, May 2021).

Julian Evans, biographer, travel writer and translator from French and German; contributor to various publications including the Guardian, Granta, Conde Nast Traveller, and L’Atelier du Roman; author of Semi-Invisible Man, an authorised biography of the writer Norman Lewis; and a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow.

Journalist and broadcaster; Kirsty Lang former foreign correspondent for the BBC and the Sunday Times; presented on Channel 4 News, BBC World, and the Radio 4 daily arts programme Front Row; served as Chair of the Orange Prize for Fiction; and was a Trustee of the British Council.

Since its inauguration in 2017, the EBRD Literature Prize has introduced English-language readers to a wide range of literature from countries as diverse as Albania, Croatia, Lativia, Lebanon, Morocco, Russia, Turkey and Uzbekistan.

The first EBRD Literature Prize was won in April 2018 by the Turkish author Burhan Sönmez and his translator Ümit Hussein for the novel Istanbul, Istanbul. The second Literature Prize was won by the Uzbek writer, Hamid Ismailov and translator Donald Rayfield (with John Farndon) for The Devils’ Dance — the first novel translated from Uzbek into English. The third Literature Prize was won in May 2020 by the Lithuanian author Grigory Kanovich and his translator Yisrael Elliot Cohen for the novel Devilspel

Chair of the Judging Panel, Toby Lichtig, said: “It has become a cliché both to claim that we live in troubled, divisive times and that literature can be a balm and a bridge. But we do – and it can. The diverse range of fiction being celebrated by the EBRD Literature Prize – often from countries whose literatures are little read in English – is a reminder of how storytelling can blur the boundaries between different peoples, different cultures and nations, bringing us news from the world and providing windows into how other people see and think.”

ELIGIBILITY

Submissions for the EBRD Literature Prize 2021 may only be made for books translated into English for the first time in the period between 15 November 2019 – 31 December 2020, by European (including UK) publishers with a valid ISBN and the price printed in the currency of a European country.

The submitted works must consist of books of translated literary fiction (including collections of short stories by a single author), translated into English and written originally in any language — whether official or minority — of an EBRD country of operations by an author who is (or has been) a citizen of an EBRD country of operations.

The submission deadline is 27 November 2020.

The shortlist will be announced in February 2021, followed by the announcement of the three finalists in April 2021. All three sets of finalists — the writers and translators — will be invited to participate in an awards ceremony (either virtually or at EBRD Headquarters in London), as well as related events in the UK, after that date.

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