2016 Translation Prizes - £13,000 distributed in six awards

This year, we honoured the most accomplished works of translation into English from Arabic, Italian, French, German, Spanish and Hebrew. The awards were presented by the judges at a ceremony held at the British Library on 22 February, sharing a total of £13,000 between the winners.

The Society of Authors Translation Prizes celebrates both the work of individual talents and of the overall importance of the art of translation. These winning books showcase the importance of translators in creatively unlocking new voices, stories and worlds.

Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for translation from Arabic

The winner of the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for translation from Arabic is Jonathan Wright, for his translation of Saud Alsanousi’s novel The Bamboo Stalk (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation).

‘Jonathan Wright’s seamless English rendering does full justice to the original, exhibiting a sureness of touch that fully captures the spirit of the Arabic version.’  

The award was judged by Lucy Popescu, Zahia Smail Salhi, Paul Starkey and Bill Swainson.

Scott Moncrieff Prize for translation from French

This is the fifty-second year that the Scott Moncrieff Prize for translation from French has been presented, and was judged by Ian Patterson and Michèle Roberts. The winners are Natasha Lehrer and Cécile Menon, for their translation of Suite for Barbara Loden by Nathalie Léger (Les Fugitives).

Judge Ian Patterson said,

‘Natasha Lehrer and Cécile Menon give this novel of striking originality and importance a stylish new incarnation, without losing any of its thought-provoking and unsettling tone.’

Sophie Lewis was commended for Héloïse is Bald by Émilie de Turckheim (Jonathan Cape). 

Schlegel-Tieck Prize for translation from German

This year also marks the fifty-second Schlegel-Tieck Prize for translation from German, which was judged by Emily Jeremiah and James Jordan. The winner of the prize is Iain Galbraith, for his translation of Self-Portrait with a Swarm of Bees by Jan Wagner (Arc Publications). Emily Jeremiah said:

‘This is an inventive, ingenious collection of poems in German and English – absolutely exhilarating!’

Anthea Bell was commended for her translation of All for Nothing by Walter Kempowski (Granta).

Premio Valle Inclán for translation from Spanish

The winner of the Premio Valle Inclán for translation from Spanish is Christina MacSweeney for her translation of The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli (Granta). This year, the prize was judged by Caragh Wells and Jason Wilson. Caragh Wells said:

‘Christina MacSweeney and the author have collaborated to produce a creative and original translation. MacSweeney has retained Luiselli’s wit and cutting observations on Highway’s life and encounters with the world around him.’ 

John Florio Prize for translation from Italian

This year’s winner of the John Florio Prize for translation from Italian was awarded to Jamie McKendrick for his translation of Antonella Anedda’s Archipelago (Bloodaxe Books). Judges Paul Howard and Cristina Viti praised the book. Paul Howard said:

‘Where Anedda crisscrosses the usual navigational lines between poetry and prose, McKendrick expertly follows, occasionally shifting course himself to good effect. Archipelago charts an intriguing confluence of poetic minds.’

Richard Dixon was also commended for his translation of Numero Zero (Harvill Secker/Vintage) by Umberto Eco. 

Risa Domb/Porjes Prize for translation from Hebrew

The Risa Domb/Porjes Prize for translation from Hebrew has been awarded this year by judges Dr Tamar Drukker, Adrianna Jacobs and Boyd Tonkin.

Rachel Tzvia Back wins the prize for her translation of Tuvia Ruebner’s In the Illuminated Dark (University of Pittsburgh Press), with Tamar Drukker commenting that,  

‘Rachel Back offers Ruebner’s ‘echoless’ and sometimes ‘trembling’ voice a natural home in English poetry, turning these poems into continuous dialogue between poets and readers.’

Dalya Bilu’s translations of Married Life (Toby Press) and Viennese Romance (Scribe Publications) were highly commended, and Evan Fallenberg’s translation of Memories After my Death: The Story of Joseph 'Tommy' Lapid (Elliot and Thompson) by Yair Lapid, and Nicholas de Lange’s translation of Scenes from Village Life (Vintage books) by Amos Oz were also commended.

Read the full press release here and take a look at the programme for the evening here