EBRD Literature Prize 2019

By Jane  Ross

EBRD Literature Prize

The Prize recognises the best works of literary fiction from the Bank’s countries of operations translated into English

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the EBRD, is pleased to announce the launch of the EBRD Literature Prize 2019, in partnership with the British Council. The Prize will recognise the extraordinary richness and variety of cultures and history in the EBRD region - a region stretching across central and eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Western Balkans, Turkey, the southern and eastern Mediterranean and northern Africa.

The EBRD Literature Prize 2019 will be awarded to the year’s best work of literary fiction translated into English and originally written in any language of the EBRD’s 38 countries of operations and published by a UK publisher.

The Prize - now in its second year -- is one of the few international literature prizes which recognises both author and translator. It highlights the importance of the writer in voicing the hopes, aspirations and challenges facing people across our regions. But just as importantly, the Prize acknowledges the talent and key role of the translator in making the stories from these countries accessible to the English-speaking public.

The first prize, worth €20,000, will be equally divided between the winning author and translator. Two runners-up and their translators will receive a prize of €1,000 each.

Our prestigious panel of independent judges for the EBRD Literature 2019 prize will be:

  • Rosie Goldsmith (Chair of the Judging Panel), BBC broadcaster and journalist; founder and chair of the European Literature Network.
  • Gabriel Gbadamosi, poet, playwright, novelist; former fellow for creative writing, Cambridge University.
  • Ted Hodgkinson, editor, critic, Senior Programmer for Literature and Spoken Word at Southbank Centre.
  • Samantha Schnee, translator and Founding Editor of Words Without Borders, dedicated to publishing the world's best literature translated into English.

Read their full biographies here.

The first EBRD Literature Prize, won by the Turkish author Burhan Sönmez and his translator Ümit Hussein for the novel ‘Istanbul, Istanbul in April 2018, attracted a wealth of submissions and introduced readers to a wide range of literature from countries as diverse as Albania, Croatia, Morocco, Russia and Turkey. Read more about the finalists and the shortlisted titles from the first EBRD Literature Prize 2018  here.

The 2018 Prize went on to attract wide interest, with dedicated events at both the London Book Fair and the Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival. It now ranks in importance alongside the Man Booker International Prize and the International Dublin Literary Award. Like them, the EBRD Literature Prize is key to widening the audiences, appreciation and readership for translated literary fiction, in general.

Jury Chair Rosie Goldsmith said: “We were delighted by the impact of the first EBRD Literature Prize, the excitement it has generated and the contribution it makes to the wider readership and recognition of great literature. The aim of the EBRD Prize is to provide a window on the world and to celebrate storytelling and storytellers. Our first winners were exceptionally good and set the bar very high. My 2019 judging panel is committed to building on this great start by tracking down those outstanding new international publications which we hope will grace your bookshelves in 2019”.

The judging panel will announce a shortlist in early 2019 before publicising the names of the three finalists. All three finalists - the writers and translators - will be invited to London to participate in an awards ceremony and discussion at EBRD headquarters in March 2019.

Books for consideration must be works of literary fiction written originally in any language – whether an official or minority language – from any country where the EBRD invests and they must be translated into English.

Submissions for the EBRD Literature Prize 2019 may only be made by UK-based publishers for books translated into English for the first time in the period between 15 November 2017 and 14 November 2018.

The deadline for submission is 1 November 2018. Find out more about the competition.      

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the EBRD, is a multilateral bank that promotes the development of the private sector and entrepreneurial initiative in 38 economies across three continents. It combines investments with policy dialogue and, through activities like its Community Initiative, also reaches out to support local societies and knowledge about EBRD countries.