EBRD Literature Prize 2022: 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 2022, in cooperation with the British Council.

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

The EBRD Literature Prize 2022 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 covered by the Prize.

Now in its fifth year, the EBRD Literature Prize has gained increasing visibility and recognition in the media, the publishing industry and amongst 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 key 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 second year running by Toby Lichtig, Fiction and Politics Editor of the Times Literary Supplement (TLS), as well as a former Chair of Judges of 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 2022, by (in alphabetical order):

Alex Clark, critic, journalist and broadcaster. A co-host of Graham Norton’s Book Club, she is also a regular on Radio 4, and writes for publications such as the GuardianObserverIrish Times and TLS.  Alex is a patron of the Cambridge Literary Festival, and has judged many literary awards, including the Booker Prize.

Boris Dralyuk, literary translator, poet, and the Editor-in-Chief of the Los Angeles Review of Books. His work has appeared in publications such as the TLS, the New York Review of Books and the New Yorker. He is the translator of several volumes from Russian, including the work of Isaac Babel, Andrey Kurkov, Maxim Osipov, and Mikhail Zoshchenko.

Dr Kathryn Murphy is a literary critic and scholar who reviews Czech literature for the TLS, and is a regular contributor, both as a reviewer and essayist, to Apollo: The International Art Magazine. She is a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oriel College, and an Associate Professor in the Faculty of English, University of Oxford.

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, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Lativia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Morocco, Poland, Russia, Turkey and Uzbekistan.

Past winners of the EBRD Literature Prize include:

In 2018, Istanbul, Istanbul (Telegram Books), by the Turkish author Burhan Sönmez and translator Ümit Hussein.

In 2019, The Devils’ Dance (Tilted Axis Press), by the Uzbek writer Hamid Ismailov and translator Donald Rayfield (with John Farndon). It was the first novel to be translated from Uzbek into English.

In 2020, Devilspel (Noir Press), by the Lithuanian author Grigory Kanovich and translator Yisrael Elliot Cohen.

In 2021, The King of Warsaw (Amazon Crossing), by the Polish writer Szczepan Twardoch and his translator Sean Gasper Bye.

Chair of the Judging Panel, Toby Lichtig, said: “It is a great honour to be chairing this excellent award for a second time. The EBRD Literature Prize draws together voices from a vast and diverse range of backgrounds and terrains, celebrating human difference and reminding us what it is that brings us together: our capacity for creativity, imagination, empathy and storytelling. I, and my fellow judges, look forward to plunging into worlds that challenge, subvert, disarm and delight.”


Submissions for the EBRD Literature Prize 2022 may only be made for books translated into English for the first time in the period between 15 November 2020-14 November 2021, 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.

The submission deadline for publishers is 3 December 2021.

The shortlist will be announced in March 2022, followed by the announcement of the three finalists in May 2022. 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.

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