EBRD Literature Prize

Winner in 2021

Title: The King of Warsaw
Writer: Szczepan Twardoch
Translator: Sean Gasper Bye
Publisher: Amazon Crossing
Language: Polish
Country: Poland

Szczepan Twardoch’s evocation of late 1930s Warsaw is an intense, vivid, compulsive portrait of a world of violence and fast-living, criminal fraternities and political turmoil. Set against a backdrop of rising fascism and anti-semitism, and starring the unforgettable character of Jakub Szapiro – a Jewish gangster on the up – it seethes with vendettas, lusts, loves, greed, righteousness, fury… and the hope of a better life. Brilliantly translated by Sean Gaspar Bye, whose tasks involved mixing Polish street slang with Yiddishisms, it is at once a pulp thriller, a linguistic feast, a historical tapestry and a devastatingly clever excavation of memory.
Toby Lichtig, Chair of Judges for the EBRD Literature Prize 2021

In May 2021, Vanora Bennett talked to the writer Szczepan Twardoch and his translator Sean Gasper Bye about the historical/inspiration to the King of Warsaw, the universality of its themes and the art of translation itself.

Read the interview with Szczepan and Sean

Szczepan Twardoch

Szczepan Twardoch is the author of the bestselling novels Morphine, Drach, and The King of Warsaw. He is the recipient of numerous honours for his work, including the Brücke Berlin Preis, Le Prix du Livre Européen, and Nike Literary Award: Audience Award. Rights to his novels have been sold in over a dozen countries. The King of Warsaw is the first of his books to be translated into English. A TV series based on the novel is being produced by Canal+. He lives in Pilchowice, Upper Silesia.

Sean Gasper Bye

Sean Gasper Bye is a translator of Polish, French and Russian literature. He was recently Literature and Humanities Curator at the Polish Cultural Institute, New York. Notable translations from Polish into English include The King of Warsaw by Szczepan Twardoch and Ellis Island: A People's History by Małgorzata Szejnert. Many of his translations of Polish fiction, reportage, and drama have appeared in Words Without Borders, Catapult, and Continents.  He is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts translation fellowship.

About the publisher

Amazon Crossing, an imprint of Amazon Publishing, publishes award-winning and bestselling books from around the globe, making international literature accessible to many readers for the first time. Read more