2020 Warwick Prize for Women in Translation longlist announced

16 titles have been longlisted for the fourth annual award of the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation.

The £1000 prize was established by the University of Warwick in 2017 to address the gender imbalance in translated literature and to increase the number of international women’s voices accessible by a British and Irish readership. In 2020 the prize is generously supported by the British Centre for Literary Translation and the British Comparative Literature Association.

The 2020 prize is once again being judged by Amanda Hopkinson, Boyd Tonkin and Susan Bassnett. Last year the prize was awarded to The Years (Fitzcarraldo Editions), written by Annie Ernaux and translated from French by Alison L. Strayer.

Fitzcarraldo Editions are represented on the longlist for the fourth year running in 2020. For the second year in a row Magda Szabó and her translator from Hungarian Len Rix are on the longlist with the Second World War novel Abigail (MacLehose Press, 2020). Translators Sarah Death and Katherine Gregor also feature on the longlist for the second time.

The range of submissions received this year is reflected in the variety of the longlist, which includes work from Argentina, Brazil, China, Malaysia and Sudan. Three of the longlisted works are literary nonfiction: two memoirs – one focussing on addiction and another on grief and renewal through the discovery of the joy of mushrooms – and one collection of letters. Two Malaysian-born writers feature, who write in Chinese and Norwegian, and one sixteenth-century Italian poet who was murdered aged 26 by her brothers in an honour killing.

The 2020 competition received a total of 132 eligible entries representing 34 languages, a substantial increase on the number of entries received in 2017 (58 entries), 2018 (52 entries) and 2019 (92 entries). The longlist covers 12 languages with Chinese, Danish, Hungarian and Italian all represented twice. 14 publishers have had their titles included on the list, with six independent publishers featuring for the first time (Bitter Lemon Press, Charco Press, Daunt Books Publishing, HopeRoad Publishing, Smokestack Books, Sort of Books) and with Penguin and Scribe UK both fielding two longlistees.

The judges said of this year’s longlist:

“This year saw the biggest number of books entered, over twice that of 2017 when the prize began. As this unique Prize has grown, so has the scope and range of the writing by women around the world that it salutes.”

“This year’s longlist not only takes us from Sudan to Malaysia, and from Finland to Brazil. It is the most genre-bending longlist to date, encompassing lyric poetry and children’s fiction, crime writing and gastronomic memoir, an epistolary novel and a collection of letters, as well as the historical epic and the short story. On this occasion, the judges’ choices also showcase an outstanding group of previously untranslated works by great women writers of the twentieth century.”

“It is gratifying to see that not only is there so much good writing by women in so many countries, but also that so much of it is now being translated. This planet-wide selection of remarkable writers, and their talented translators, will richly reward your attention.”

Prize coordinator, Dr Chantal Wright of the University of Warwick’s School of Creative Arts, Performance and Visual Cultures, comments:

“This year’s record-breaking number of entries confirms our sense that ‘women in translation’ are becoming more visible and more numerous, both on shortlists and in the awareness of the reading public. Once again a significant number of independent publishers have joined forces with activist literary translators to play a vital part in diversifying the reading available to us in the UK and Ireland.”

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