‘Vivid’, ‘intense’, ‘compelling’ – SoA’s 2019 Translation Prizes shortlists

1 December 2019

Thirty-five translations from nine languages: announcing the seven shortlists for the 2019 Society of Authors’ Translation Prizes.

Sharing in a total prize fund worth almost £20,000, the winners will be announced in a ceremony at The British Library Knowledge Centre on Wednesday 12 February 2020. Thanks to main sponsors: the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS). 

The thirty-five shortlisted works, translated from nine languages, were described by the judges as ‘vivid’, ‘intense’, ‘compelling’, and ‘seeming to accomplish the impossible’. They are stunning translations into English from German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Dutch, and Hebrew. 
The biennial Goethe-Insitut Award for New Translation will also be awarded for the best translation of an extract from Die Fahrt by Sibylle Berg from German into English.

Share your support for the shortlists on social media – see below.



An annual award of £3,000 for translations into English of full-length German works of literary merit and general interest. This year’s judges are Dr Caroline Summers and Professor Emily Jeremiah.

The shortlist: 

  • Margot Bettauer Dembo for a translation of The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers (Virago Press) 
  • Katy Derbyshire for a translation of Gentleman Jack by Angela Steidele (Serpent’s Tail)  
  • Iain Galbraith for a translation of River by Esther Kinsky (Fitzcarraldo Editions)  
  • Karen Leeder for a translation of Thick of It by Ulrike Almut Sandig (Seagull Books)  
  • Simon Pare for a translation of The Flying Mountain by Christoph Ransmayr (Seagull Books)  
  • Damion Searls for a translation of Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Cresspahl by Uwe Johnson (New York Review Books)

Sponsored by the Goethe-Institut.



An annual award of £1,000 for translations into English of full-length French works of literary merit and general interest. This year’s judges are Professor Susan Harrow and Dr Sudhir Hazareesingh.

The shortlist: 

  • Linda Coverdale for a translation of The Old Slave and the Mastiff by Patrick Chamoiseau (Dialogue Books) 
  • Penny Hueston for a translation of Our Life in the Forest by Marie Darrieussecq (Text Publishing)  
  • Adriana Hunter for a translation of Woman at Sea by Catherine Poulain (Jonathan Cape)  
  • Tina Kover for a translation of Disoriental by Négar Djavadi (Europa Editions)  
  • Geoffrey Strachan for a translation of Tropic of Violence by Nathacha Appanah (MacLehose Press) 
  • David Warriner for a translation of We Were the Salt of the Sea by Roxanne Bouchard (Orenda Books)  

Sponsored by the Institut français du Royaume-Uni, ALCS and the Society of Authors.



An annual £2,000 prize for a debut literary translation into English published in the UK. The Prize is shared between the translator and their editor. This year’s judges are Daniel Hahn, Ellie Steel, and Shaun Whiteside. 

The shortlist: 

  • Sarah Booker and their editor Lauren Rosemary Hook for a translation of The Iliac Crest by Cristina Rivera Garza (And Other Stories). Translated from Spanish. 
  • Natascha Bruce and their editor Jeremy Tiang for a translation of Lonely Face by Yeng Pway Ngon (Balestier Press). Translated from Chinese (Singapore). 
  • Morgan Giles and their editor Saba Ahmed for a translation of Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri (Tilted Axis Press). Translated from Japanese. 
  • Ellen Jones and their editors Fionn Petch and Carolina Orloff for a translation of Trout, Belly Up by Rodrigo Fuentes (Charco Press). Translated from Spanish. 
  • William Spence and their editor Tomasz Hoskins for a translation of The Promise: Love and Loss in Modern China by XinRan Xue (I. B. Tauris). Translated from Mandarin. 
  • Charlotte Whittle and their editor Bella Bosworth for a translation of People in the Room by Norah Langé (And Other Stories). Translated from Spanish. 

Sponsored by Daniel Hahn and the British Council. 



An annual prize of £2,000 for translations into English of full-length Spanish language works of literary merit and general interest. This year’s judges are Professor Peter Bush and Dr Laura Lonsdale. 

The shortlist: 

  • Nick Caistor for a translation of Springtime in a Broken Mirror by Mario Benedetti (Penguin Classics) 
  • Charlotte Coombe for a translation of Fish Soup by Margarita García Robayo (Charco Press) 
  • William Gregory for a translation of The Oberon Anthology of Contemporary Spanish Plays by Borja Ortiz de Gondra, Blanca Doménech, Víctor Sánchez Rodríguez, Vanessa Montfort, and Julio Escalada (Oberon Books)   
  • Sophie Hughes for a translation of The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zeran (And Other Stories)   
  • Jessica Sequeira for a translation of Land of Smoke by Sara Gallardo (Pushkin Press) 

Sponsored by ALCS and the Society of Authors. 



An annual award of £3,000 for published translations from Arabic of full-length works of imaginative and creative writing of literary merit and general interest. This year’s judges are Ghazi Gheblawi, Dr Jan Fortune, Abla Oudeh, and Catherine Taylor.

The shortlist: 

  • Marilyn Booth for a translation of Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi (Sandstone Press)  
  • Humphrey Davies for a translation of My Name is Adam: Children of the Ghetto  
  • Volume 1 by Elias Khoury (MacLehose)  
  • Leri Price for a translation of Death is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa (Faber & Faber) 
  • Jonathan Wright for a translation of Jokes for the Gunman by Mazen Maarouf  
  • (Granta Books) 

Sponsored by Omar Saif Ghobash and his family and the Banipal Trust for Arab Literature. 



The Vondel Prize is a biennial award of €5000 for translation into English of full-length Dutch language works of literary merit and general interest. This year’s judges are David Colmer, Jane Draycott, and Anthony Paul.

The shortlist: 

  • David Doherty for a translation of Monte Carlo by Peter Terrin (MacLehose Press) 
  • Antoinette Fawcett for a translation of Bird Cottage by Eva Meijer (Pushkin Press) 
  • Nancy Forest-Flier for a translation of The Story of Shit by Midas Dekkers (Text Publishing) 
  • Michele Hutchison for a translation of Stage Four by Sander Kollaard (Amazon Crossing) 

Sponsored by the Nedelands Letterenfonds Dutch Foundation for Literature. 



The TLS-Risa Domb/Porjes Prize of £2,000 has been awarded triennially since 1998 and recognises the English translation of a full-length Hebrew book, fiction or non-fiction, of general interest and literary merit. This year’s judges are Boyd Tonkin, Dr. Tsila Ratner, and Dr. Yaron Peleg.

The shortlist: 

  • Peter C. Appelbaum for a translation of Hell on Earth by Avigdor Hameiri (Wayne State University Press)  
  • Jessica Cohen for a translation of A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman (Vintage)  
  • Nicholas de Lange for a translation of Judas by Amos Oz (Vintage) 
  • Rachel Tzvia Back for a translation of On the Surface of Silence by Lea Goldberg (Hebrew Union College Press) 

Sponsored by the Porjes Trust and administered by the Jewish Book Council, in association with the Society of Authors and the TLS.

Share your support

Show your support for the 2019 Translation Prizes on social media by downloading our banners, and get inspiration for tweets and Facebook posts.

Click on a prize below to download a celebratory shortlist banner:

Suggested tweets:

Congratulations to the shortlisted translators for the @soc_of_authors Translation Prizes 2019 – check them out here: https://bit.ly/2rCw8Bg #TranslationPrizes19

Hurrah for 2019 TA First Translation Prize shortlist – for debut literary translations into English. Prize shared between translator and editor! #TranslationPrizes19 https://bit.ly/2rCw8Bg

A stunning line-up of translations for the @soc_of_authors Translation Prizes 2019. Winner announced February 2020. Check them out: https://bit.ly/2rCw8Bg #TranslationPrizes19

Suggested Facebook posts:

The Society of Authors has announced the 2019 Translation Prizes shortlists, sharing in a total prize fund worth almost £20,000. Winners will be announced in February 2020. See the line-up here: https://bit.ly/2rCw8Bg

Congratulations to all the shortlisted translators and editors in the Society of Authors' Translation Prizes 2019 – including the TA First Translation Prize for debut literary translations into English. A stunning line-up. Check them out: https://bit.ly/2rCw8Bg

About the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society: The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) is a not-for-profit organisation started by writers for the benefit of all types of writers. Owned by its members, ALCS collects money due for secondary uses of writers’ work. It is designed to support authors and their creativity, ensure they receive fair payment and see their rights are respected. It promotes and teaches the principles of copyright and campaigns for a fair deal. It represents over 100,000 members, and since 1977 has paid around £500 million to writers (alcs.co.uk).