The Warwick Prize for Women in Translation Longlist

The longlist has been announced and I have a preference

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.”

I am particularly interested in the outcome of this year’s Warwick Prize for Women in Translation because one of my favourite books of 2020 is on the longlist, namely: Letters from Tove by the Finnish novelist, painter, illustrator and comic strip author, Tove Jansson. This collection of personal correspondence offers an intriguing insight into the author’s mind and kept me both amused and relatively sane during the first COVID-19 lockdown. I therefore confess quite openly to complete bias in the outcome of this year’s choice for the award.

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. This year, the prize has been supported by the British Centre for Literary Translation and the British Comparative Literature Association. Once again, the prize is being judged by Amanda Hopkinson, Boyd Tonkin and Susan Bassnett.

The array of submissions received this year (a total of 132 eligible entries representing 34 languages) 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 non-fiction: two memoirs – one focussing on addiction and another on grief and renewal through the discovery of the joy of mushrooms. 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 judges were keen to make the point that this year “saw the biggest number of books entered, over twice that of 2017 when the prize began.” Indeed, it showcases a great many “previously untranslated works by great women writers of the twentieth century.”

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

In 2019, the prize was awarded to one of France’s most respected writers, Annie Ernaux, for The Years (Fitzcarraldo Editions), which was translated from French by Alison L. Strayer.

The shortlist for the 2020 prize will be published in early November and the winner announced in an online ceremony on Thursday 26th November. I await the result with hopeful enthusiasm.

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.”


The full list of longlisted titles, in alphabetical order:


Abigail by Magda Szabó, translated from Hungarian by Len Rix (MacLehose Press, 2020)

Dependency by Tove Ditlevsen, translated from Danish by Michael Favala Goldman (Penguin Classics, 2019)

Happiness as Such by Natalia Ginzburg, translated from Italian by Minna Zallman Proctor (Daunt Books Publishing, 2019)

Isabella by Isabella Morra, translated from Italian by Caroline Maldonado (Smokestack Books, 2019)

Lake Like a Mirror by Sok Fong Ho, translated from Chinese by Natascha Bruce (Granta Publications, 2019)

Letters from Tove by Tove Jansson, edited by Boel Westin & Helen Svensson, translated from Swedish by Sarah Death (Sort of Books, 2019)

Pixel by Krisztina Toth, translated from Hungarian by Owen Good (Seagull Books, 2019)

Summer of Reckoning by Marion Brunet, translated from French by Katherine Gregor (Bitter Lemon Press, 2020)  

The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, translated from Spanish by Iona Macintyre & Fiona Mackintosh (Charco Press, 2019)

The Chandelier by Clarice Lispector, translated from Portuguese by Benjamin Moser & Magdalena Edwards (Penguin Modern Classics, 2019)

The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili, translated from German by Charlotte Collins & Ruth Martin (Scribe UK, 2019)

The Way Through the Woods by Long Litt Woon, translated from Norwegian by Barbara Haveland (Scribe UK, 2019)

Things that Fall from the Sky by Selta Ahava, translated from Finnish by Emily Jeremiah & Fleur Jeremiah (Oneworld, 2019)

Thirteen Months of Sunrise by Rania Mamoun, translated from Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette (Comma Press, 2019)

Vivian by Christina Hesselholdt, translated from Danish by Paul Russell Garrett (Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2019)

White Horse by Yan Ge, translated from Chinese by Nicky Harman (HopeRoad Publishing, 2019)


Categories: Literary Awards, Translated Literature

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18 replies

  1. Thank you for this. I didn’t realise this prize existed and am now fascinated to read some of these. The Tove Jansson letters seem very appealing.

  2. Some really fascinating books in there! I’ve only read Vivian, which I loved, but I have the Ditlevsens lurking and I would love to read Tove Jansson’s letters. It’ll be interesting to see which one wins! 😀

  3. What a fantastic post! I had never heard of this award before and will definitely be adding some of these titles to my TBR!

  4. A really interesting list I think. I do like this prize.

  5. I’ve only read Abigail from the long list, which I loved. I want to read Letters from Tove – I love her so much. There are some interesting titles on the list – I wonder how many my local library has in stock.

    • I would love to read my way through this list, Jan. I too may investigate my local library but, sadly, it is closed for the duration of the current Welsh firebreak! 😢

      • Wales is having it really tough, isn’t it? I hope that the firebreak serves its purpose and keeps you all safe. Part of me wishes England was doing the same, instead of this ridiculous tier system we have.

  6. Such an interesting prize – I can’t wait to see who wins!

  7. Oh, MY, so many good books here. It feels like the perfect storm for a new reading project! (No, no, no: must resist.) You’ve reminded me to check back with the library about the Tove letters and they have, since, ordered and circulated a copy, so I will be able to have a look after all. Do you think it would be risky to read the letters without having read most of/all of her books? I try to avoid spoiling an author’s work, by reading letters or diaries first, when they discuss the craft and storytelling in their letters/diaries, particularly when I do plan to read more of their writing.

    • I honestly think if you have an interest in TJ, you will enjoy reading (or merely dipping into) this book, Marcie. You may also find Boel Westin’s excellent biography, Tove Jansson Life, Art, Words, a useful and enjoyable accompaniment.


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