EBRD Literature Prize 2021: judges announced, open for submissions

By Jane  Ross

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The Prize rewards best works of literary fiction from across EBRD’s regions translated into English

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the EBRD, today announces the launch of the EBRD Literature Prize 2021, in cooperation with the British Council.

The Prize celebrates the rich cultures of the regions where the Bank works, regions that stretch from central Europe to central Asia as well as the southern and eastern Mediterranean and northern Africa. 

The EBRD Literature Prize 2021 will be awarded to both writer and translator for the best work of literary fiction (including collections of short stories by a single author) translated into English, written originally in any language of the EBRD’s countries of operations and published for the first time by a European (including UK) publisher in the period captured by the Prize.

Now in its fourth year, the EBRD Literature Prize has gained increasing recognition, attention and visibility amongst the media, the publishing industry and the reading public. The Prize not only rewards the writer who brings stories from these diverse countries to life, but just as importantly it acknowledges the vital role that the translator plays in making these stories accessible to English-speaking audiences.  The first prize, worth €20,000, will be equally divided between the winning author and translator. The two runner-up books will receive a prize of €4,000 each, again equally split between author and translator.

The EBRD Literature Prize is chaired for the first time by Toby Lichtig, writer, critic and Fiction and Politics Editor of the Times Literary Supplement, as well as former chair of judges for the 2018 JQ-Wingate Prize and a jury member of the 2019 EU Prize for Literature.

Toby is joined on the independent panel of judges for the EBRD Literature Prize 2021 by:

Anna Aslanyan, freelance journalist and translator from Russian; regular contributor to London Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement (TLS); and author of the forthcoming popular history of translation, Dancing on Ropes: Translators and the Balance of History (Profile Books, May 2021).

Julian Evans, biographer, travel writer and translator from French and German; contributor to various publications including the Guardian, GrantaConde Nast Traveller, and L’Atelier du Roman; author of Semi-Invisible Man, an authorised biography of the writer Norman Lewis; and a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow.

Kirsty Lang, journalist and broadcaster; former foreign correspondent for the BBC and the Sunday Times; presented on Channel 4 News, BBC World, and the Radio 4 daily arts programme Front Row; served as Chair of the Orange Prize for Fiction; and was a Trustee of the British Council.

More about the judges

Since its inauguration in 2017, the EBRD Literature Prize has introduced English-language readers to a wide range of literature from countries as diverse as Albania, Croatia, Lativia, Lebanon, Morocco, Russia, Turkey and Uzbekistan.

The first EBRD Literature Prize was won in April 2018 by the Turkish author Burhan Sönmez and his translator Ümit Hussein for the novel Istanbul, Istanbul. The second Literature Prize was won by the Uzbek writer, Hamid Ismailov and translator Donald Rayfield (with John Farndon) for The Devils’ Dance --  the first novel translated from Uzbek into English. The third Literature Prize was won in May 2020 by the Lithuanian author Grigory Kanovich and his translator Yisrael Elliot Cohen for the novel Devilspel

Chair of the Judging Panel, Toby Lichtig, said: “It has become a cliché both to claim that we live in troubled, divisive times and that literature can be a balm and a bridge. But we do – and it can. The diverse range of fiction being celebrated by the EBRD Literature Prize – often from countries whose literatures are little read in English – is a reminder of how storytelling can blur the boundaries between different peoples, different cultures and nations, bringing us news from the world and providing windows into how other people see and think.” 

ELIGIBILITY

Submissions for the EBRD Literature Prize 2021 may only be made for books translated into English for the first time in the period between 15 November 2019 - 31 December 2020, by European (including UK) publishers with a valid ISBN and the price printed in the currency of a European country. 

The submitted works must consist of books of translated literary fiction (including collections of short stories by a single author), translated into English and written originally in any language -- whether official or minority -- of an EBRD country of operations by an author who is (or has been) a citizen of an EBRD country of operations. See the list of EBRD countries of operations eligible for participation in the EBRD Literature Prize. Further details on eligibility and the submission form are here

The submission deadline is 27 November 2020.

The shortlist will be announced in February 2021, followed by the announcement of the three finalists in April 2021. All three sets of finalists -- the writers and translators -- will be invited to participate in an awards ceremony (either virtually or at EBRD Headquarters in London), as well as related events in the UK, after that date.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

About the EBRD

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.

About the EBRD Literature Prize

Read more about the submission rules, the finalists and the shortlisted titles from the EBRD Literature Prizes in 2018, 2019 and 2020 here.

About the judging panel

Toby Lichtig (Chair of Judges) is the Fiction and Politics Editor of the Times Literary Supplement (TLS). He is also a freelance editor and writer, and writes for a range of publications including the Wall Street Journal and the Guardian. Toby has appeared as a guest critic on various television and radio programmes. He also freelances as a documentary producer. He was chair of judges of the 2018 JQ-Wingate Prize and was a jury member of the 2019 EU Prize for Literature.
Twitter: @TobyLichtig

Anna Aslanyan is a freelance journalist and translator from Russian. She writes for the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement (TLS) and other publications. Her translation of Egor Kovalevsky's 1848 travelogue, A Journey to Inner Africa, is forthcoming with Amherst College Press in November 2020. Her popular history of translation, Dancing on Ropes: Translators and the Balance of History, will be published by Profile Books in May 2021.

Twitter: @anna_aslanyan

Julian Evans is a biographer, travel writer and translator. He established himself on the literary scene with Transit of Venus (1992), an account of his journey across the Pacific Ocean to the US's nuclear-missile test range at Kwajalein Atoll. His most recent book is Semi-Invisible Man, an authorised biography of the writer Norman Lewis. Julian has written and presented radio and television documentaries and writes for English and French newspapers and magazines including the GuardianProspect, Daily Telegraph, GrantaConde Nast Traveller, and L’Atelier du Roman. He translates from French and German and is a recipient of the Prix du Rayonnement de la Langue Française from the Académie Française. He is a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow.
Twitter: @thejulianevans

Kirsty Lang is an experienced journalist and broadcaster with a special interest in foreign affairs and the arts. She spent many years as a foreign correspondent reporting for the BBC and the Sunday Times from eastern Europe and later Paris. She’s been a presenter on Channel 4 News, BBC World, and the Radio 4 daily arts programme Front Row. She chaired the Orange Prize for Fiction, and was a judge of the Independent Prize for Foreign Fiction in Translation. She has been a visiting Professor in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University in New York and teaches a writing course at University College London. She is also Chair of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead and a former Trustee of the British Council.
Twitter: @bbckirstylang

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