2020 Warwick Prize for Women in Translation Shortlist

The shortlist has been announced and my favourite is still in contention

The diversity of the 2020 shortlist is thrilling to see, both in terms of source languages represented but also from the point of view of genre”.
Dr Chantal Wright

Seven titles have been shortlisted for the fourth annual award of the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation and I am delighted to report that my favourite read during lockdown, Letters from Tove by the late Finnish novelist, painter, illustrator and beloved creator of the Moomins, Tove Jansson, is among those still in the running.

The shortlist reflects the diversity of the record number of entries submitted to the prize in 2020 – a total of 132 of which 16 titles made the initial longlist. Included are three novels (one of which is epistolary), two collections of short stories, one collection of letters and a young adult novella. Of these, six source languages are represented, and the list is dominated by independent publishers.

Judge Boyd Tonkin commented: “Each book boasts a powerfully distinctive voice given fresh life in English thanks to a first-rate translation. Notably, this year’s shortlist also features previously untranslated work by three classic 20th-century authors: a reminder of the wealth of global women’s writing, past as well as present, that remains to be discovered by English-language readers.”

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 being supported by the British Centre for Literary Translation and the British Comparative Literature Association.

Founder of the prize, Dr Chantal Wright of the University of Warwick’s School of Creative Arts, Performance and Visual Cultures is “especially pleased” that this year’s competition has gone ahead “despite the pandemic, in what has otherwise been an extremely challenging year for the arts.” She now looks forward to revealing the winning title in an online award ceremony on 26th November and celebrating the Prize’s fifth year within the framework of Coventry UK City of Culture in 2021.”


The full list of shortlisted titles, in alphabetical order:


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

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

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

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

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


Categories: Literary Awards, Translated Literature

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20 replies

  1. Such an interesting list! 😀

  2. I haven’t read any of these but am very keen to read Magda Szabo

  3. Good luck to Letters from Tove – although I haven’t got to it yet but it sounds gorgeous.

  4. I do dream that one day I’ll see a translation of a Romanian novel on this list 🙂
    Romanian literature is so rich and thoughtful, with a foundation of rocky history washed over by a tsunami of contemporaneity.
    Well, I might be siding here 🙂

    A wave of literature coming from Sweden and Norway lately.

    • I very much enjoyed Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn, but I’m almost certain it was written in English – though I could be mistaken. However, I’m struggling to recall reading any Romanian books in translation, so I fear you are right, Patricia. 🤔

  5. This is such an interesting shortlist. And thanks for introducing me to another epistolary novel- I do have a weakness for them.

  6. How happy you must have been to have spotted your personal favourite as being still in the running. If you were to choose just one other from the remaining titles to read, which would you choose? Myself, I’m always tempted by an epistolary novel…

    • Ooh, let me see now… Perhaps Happiness, as Such because I have a soft spot for epistolary novels – but they all tempt me for a variety of reasons. How about you, Marcie? Anything of interest on the list?

  7. How did I miss you in the reader. I have resubscribed. Sorry I’ve missed out on your posts!


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