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EBRD Literature Prize 2021: Finalists announced

By Jane  Ross

  • Three novels in English translation by Nana Ekvtimishvili (Georgia), Szczepan Twardoch (Poland) and Matei Vişniec (Romania) shortlisted for €20,000 prize
  • Winner announced on 1 June 2021

Three novels have been announced as the finalists of the fourth EBRD Literature Prize, a €20,000 award launched in 2017 by the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), in collaboration with the British Council.

The EBRD Literature Prize celebrates the very best in translated literature from the almost 40 countries where the Bank invests, from Central and eastern Europe to Central Asia, the Western Balkans and the southern and eastern Mediterranean.

The €20,000 Prize is awarded to the best work of literary fiction originally written in a language from one of these countries, which has been translated into English and published by a UK or a Europe-based publisher.

The three finalists for this year’s Prize, in alphabetical order, by author, are:

  • The Pear Field by Nana Ekvtimishvili, translated by Elizabeth Heighway (Peirene Press). Language: Georgian. Country: Georgia.
  • The King of Warsaw by Szczepan Twardoch, translated by Sean Gasper Bye (Amazon Crossing). Language: Polish. Country: Poland.
  • Mr K Released by Matei Vişniec, translated by Jozefina Komporaly (Seagull Books). Language: Romanian. Country: Romania.

The EBRD Literature Prize is one of the few international literature prizes which recognises both author and translator in equal measure: the winning title will receive the top prize of €20,000, which will be split evenly between the author and the translator, and the two runner-up titles will receive €8,000, similarly divided.

The winner of the EBRD Literature Prize 2021 will be announced on 1 June.

Toby Lichtig, Chair of Judges, said, “I and my fellow judges are delighted with this list of finalists, which attests to the boundless ingenuity of the human literary imagination. A kafkaesque fable about Romania’s transition from Communism to democracy; a hard-hitting evocation of 1930s Warsaw, complete with Jewish gangsters, street slang and hopes for a better future; a beautiful, brutal and life-affirming tale about the bonds of child friendship, and scars of adult neglect, in a Tbilisi “school for the intellectually disabled” – each of these novels is, in its own way, compelling, shocking, enchanting, memorable, brilliantly rendered and entirely original.”

Read the Judges’ reviews of the three shortlisted titles

The independent panel of judges for this year’s Prize chose the three finalists from 10 longlisted titles, announced on 11 March. The longlisted titles, in alphabetical order by author, were:

Love in the Days of Rebellion by Ahmet Altan, translated by Brendan Freely and Yelda Türedi (Europa Editions). Language: Turkish. Country: Turkey.

The Pear Field by Nana Ekvtimishvili, translated by Elizabeth Heighway (Peirene Press. Language: Georgian. Country: Georgia.

Grey Bees by Andrey Kurkov, translated by Boris Dralyuk (MacLehose Press, an imprint of Quercus). Language: Russian. Country: Ukraine

Carbide by Andriy Lyubka, translated by Reilly Costigan-Humes and Isaac Stockhouse Wheeler (Jantar Publishing Ltd). Language: Ukrainian. Country: Ukraine

Hana by Alena Mornštajnová, translated by Julia and Peter Sherwood (Parthian Books). Language: Czech. Country: Czech Republic.

No-Signal Area by Robert Perišić, translated by Ellen Elias-Bursac (Seven Stories Press). Language: Croatian. Country: Croatia.

The Highly Unreliable Account of the History of a Madhouse by Ayfer Tunç translated by Feyza Howell (Istros Books). Language: Turkish. Country: Turkey.

The King of Warsaw by Szczepan Twardoch, translated by Sean Gasper Bye (Amazon Crossing). Language: Polish. Country: Poland.

Mr K Released by Matei Vişniec, translated by Jozefina Komporaly (Seagull Books). Language: Romanian. Country: Romania.

Your Ad Could Go Here by Oksana Zabuzhko, translated by Nina Murray, Marta Horban, Marco Carynnyk, Halyna Hryn, and Askold Melnyczuk

(Amazon Crossing). Language: Ukrainian. Country: Ukraine.

The EBRD Literature Prize is a project of the Bank’s Community Initiative, a programme which provides a framework for the engagement of staff and the institution in philanthropic, social and cultural activities in the regions where the Bank works.


The Chair of the Community Initiative, Kazuhiko Koguchi, said today: “The EBRD Literature Prize reminds us of the power of translated literature to break down barriers and promote common understanding across countries and cultures.”

About the Judges

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 GuardianProspectDaily TelegraphGrantaConde 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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