EBRD Literature Prize 2021: selected longlist announced

Published in Culture
Friday, 19 March 2021 15:56
  • The Prize recognises the best works of literary fiction from the EBRD’s regions translated into English
  • Longlist features work translated from eight languages
  • Winner of €20,000 prize to be announced in May

The EBRD Literature Prize 2021, launched by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to promote translated literary fiction from its regions of operations, announces its selected longlist today. 

This is now the fourth year of the EBRD Literature Prize which celebrates the very best in translated literature from the nearly 40 countries where the Bank invests: from central and eastern Europe to Central Asia, the Western Balkans and the southern and eastern Mediterranean.

The €20,000 Prize is awarded to the best work of literary fiction originally written in a language from one of these countries, which has been translated into English and published by a UK or a Europe-based publisher.

The international prize was created in 2017 by the EBRD with funding provided by the members of the EBRD, in cooperation with the British Council. It is one of the few international literature prizes which recognises both author and translator in equal measure.

The independent panel of judges for the EBRD Literature Prize 2021 has selected 10 novels that they consider outstanding works of storytelling. In total, eight languages feature on the selected longlist, which represents a fascinating mix of cultures from across the EBRD regions of operations.

Toby Lichtig, Chair of the Judges, said: “Given the diversity of territories covered by the EBRD, it is perhaps unsurprising how varied and culturally rich this longlist is, both thematically and stylistically. The ten books move us from 1930s Warsaw to 1950s Czechoslovakia to contemporary Ukrainian no man’s land; from a Kafakaesque tale of judicial injustice to an absurdist tragicomedy of human smuggling; from the dying days of the Ottoman Empire to an alternative Balkans hauling itself into the present day. Taken together, they give a picture of an Eurasian region riven with the scars of war and displacement, cruelty and carelessness, and teeming with human resilience and ingenuity. And love. Each book is unique, each translation brilliantly realised.”

The longlist titles, in alphabetical order by author, are:

Love in the Days of Rebellion by Ahmet Altan, translated by Brendan Freely and Yelda Türedi (Europa Editions). Language: Turkish. Country: Turkey.

The Pear Field by Nana Ekvtimishvili, translated by Elizabeth Heighway (Peirene Press. Language: Georgian. Country: Georgia.

Grey Bees by Andrey Kurkov, translated by Boris Dralyuk (MacLehose Press, an imprint of Quercus). Language: Russian. Country: Ukraine

Carbide by Andriy Lyubka, translated by Reilly Costigan-Humes and Isaac Stockhouse Wheeler (Jantar Publishing Ltd). Language: Ukrainian. Country: Ukraine

Hana by Alena Mornstajnova, translated by Julia and Peter Sherwood (Parthian Books). Language: Czech. Country: Czech Republic.

No-Signal Area by Robert Perisic, translated by Ellen Elias-Bursac (Seven Stories Press). Language: Croatian. Country: Croatia.

The Highly Unreliable Account of the History of a Madhouse by Ayfer Tunc, translated by Feyza Howell (Istros Books). Language: Turkish. Country: Turkey.

The King of Warsaw by Szczepan Twardoch, translated by Sean Gasper Bye (Amazon Crossing). Language: Polish. Country: Poland.

Mr K Released by Matei Visniec, translated by Jozefina Komporaly (Seagull Books). Language: Romanian. Country: Romania.

Your Ad Could Go Here by Oksana Zabuzhko, translated by Nina Murray, Marta Horban, Marco Carynnyk, Halyna Hryn, and Askold Melnyczuk

(Amazon Crossing). Language: Ukrainian. Country: Ukraine.

The EBRD Literature Prize is a project of the Bank’s Community Initiative, a programme which provides a framework for the engagement of staff and the institution in philanthropic, social and cultural activities in the regions where the Bank works.

The Chair of the Community Initiative, Kazuhiko Koguchi, said today: The Literature Prize reminds us of the wealth of creativity and cultures across our regions of operations, and highlights the role of storytelling in connecting us all and building bridges across borders.

The finalists (three authors and their translators) of the EBRD Literature Prize 2021 will be announced on 3 May 2021. All will be invited to attend the award ceremony later that month (date to be determined), where the winner of the EBRD Literature Prize 2021 will be announced.

The news prepared in the framework of the EU project "EU NEIGHBOURS east"

Literature across borders: translating culture to build connections between Georgia and Europe

Published in World
Saturday, 29 July 2017 17:04

By Tamar Khurtsia

Laurence Plazenet, Carl Frode Tiller, Isabelle Wery, Katri Lipson, Daniel Pennac … these are just a handful of the 20 European authors, whose works will be translated into Georgian with the support of the European Union's Creative Europe programme and its support to literary translation, allowing Georgian readers to get acquainted with important works of European literature.  

Leila Kirtadze is Head of Monitoring of Copyright and Translation at Elfi, a Georgian publishing house: she says European literature is modestly represented on the Georgian book market, compared to English-language works. Elfi is one of the publishing houses that won support from Creative Europe in 2016 for literary translations into Georgian, allowing it to translate the works of 10 European authors.   

Elfi and another Georgian publisher Agora received funding from Creative Europe in 2016 to translate, publish, and promote 20 books in two years. Creative Europe does not allocate 100% funding, so publishers also need to find some of the money themselves.

This opportunity enables the translation of literary works from many European languages into Georgian. The fund aims to support cultural and linguistic diversity in Europe, promote the transnational circulation of high quality literary works, and improve access to these literary works so that they can reach new audiences.  

 

Elfi has called its project the "First time in Georgia: 10 EU Literature Prize winners". Within this project, it is translating such novels as 'Encirclement/Innsirkling' by Norwegian writer Carl Frode Tiller, 'God Is My Witness' by the Greek author Makis Tsitas, and 'Ice Cream Man' by Finnish writer Katri Lipson.

“In the last 20 years, Norwegian literature has never been published, and only a few books are translated from Greek and Italian. In order to fill the vacuum, Elfi selected the kind of European authors which Georgian society doesn’t know and which will give our readers some ideas about modern European literature and writers,” says Leila Kirtadze.

Elfi has been on the market for 20 years. Most of the books it publishes are for children. But the publishing house is convinced that translated literature will be greatly appreciated by Georgian readers.

While selecting authors and works, publishers consider the relevance to the time and the readers' taste. That’s why Finish author Katri Lipson is one of the 10 authors who will also be translated into Georgian. Dimitri Gogolashvili is the translator working on Katri Lipson’s book Ice Cream Man.  

Generally, I select the book that I would like to translate but in this case they offered me this author and I got interested. The book is about the most recent history of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, where a director sets out to mimic real life by creating a film without a script, where the actors learn the story and their part in it as they go. The picture of the communist era is well illustrated and in this regard it should be close and understandable to Georgian readers."

Mzia Gomelauri is translating The Ski Bum, a novel by the Lithuanian-French author Romain Gary, for publishing house Agora, which, among other things, focuses on the translation of French literature.  

"The translation of Romain Gary is not new to me. I have already translated his Promise of Dawn, which is a very important work. If it were not for Agora, he would be completely unknown to Georgians. Gary is a very European author. He is also cosmopolitan, because he has a lot of different roots," says Mzia Gomelauri.

She was very happy to be offered to translate this work. "He is a great writer, and writes in a various ways, so you think it's a different person. It’s very interesting to translate his works, perhaps because two cultures cross here. The main character is the American, not French. He expresses himself in a different ways. This all makes it difficult to translate," says Gomelauri.

The director of Agora, Marina Balavadze, puts quality above all else. "The author should not be lost in the translation and we have the right translators, so we can give a guarantee. We have an opportunity to introduce some new translations. So we thought, why not and decided to expand it now and translate books not only from French but also from other languages,” said Balavadze.

Agora's project was named the "European Literature Mosaic" and covered 10 European writers, including Irish author Donald Ryan's novel The Spinning Heart and Italian author Italo Calvino's The Baron in the Trees.

"There is a great demand for books in Georgia. But as a publisher we wouldn't be able to do anything if it wasn't for programmes like 'Support to literary translation'. Our publishing house could offer two or three new translations for our readers, but now with the project we can offer 10 new authors. All this helps to increase the cultural level in the country. I’m very glad that Georgia is doing its best to be involved in this programme,” said Balavadze.  

A publisher can apply for support for a project involving the translation, production and promotion of 10 works of fiction. Eligible costs include the translation, production and promotion of European literature. A publisher can apply for a grant of up to €100,000 (maximum 50% of the eligible costs), and the project must be delivered over a maximum of 2 years. 

According to Kati Shengelia, the Head of the Programme Creative Georgia, five applicants applied for funding last year. She hopes the number of applicants and winners will increase in the future.

"This programme is good, because it means a lot of books will be published which wouldn't have been translated otherwise. Also, it is important to understand that you offer work to the translators. The translator's profession is more or less forgotten, in fact the purpose of this financing is also to raise a translator's profile and to make people realise that this is a real profession,” said Shengelia.

While the programme means European authors are translated into Georgian, it also means the works of Georgian authors have a chance to be translated into European languages. And Shengelia feels that for Georgia, joining Creative Europe meant that "Georgian culture was entering the European family”.

 "The programme emphasises European identity. By joining this programme, Georgia has taken a very important step. Georgia has a great creative potential and this potential should be developed," says Shengelia.

Kati Shengelia says there is a lot of enthusiasm among Georgian publishers who are preparing to apply for more funding to translate European authors into Georgian. In Georgia, there is a hope that there will be more projects like this in the future, so that EU-Georgian cultural connections can become even stronger. The support of the European Union in strengthening these links is very much appreciated.

This article was produced in the framework of the EU Neighbours east project. The views expressed are solely those of the author of the article.

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