Warwick Prize for Women in Translation Winner Announced

The Eighth Life is named winner of the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation 2020

Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin have done a superb job, maintaining the lightness of narrative touch and moving between the many voices of the different generation”.
Judge Amanda Hopkinson

The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili, translated from German by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin, and published by Scribe Publications, has been declared the 2020 winner of the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation. However, I am delighted to say, my favourite lockdown read of 2020, Letters from Tove by Finnish author, artist and creator of the much-loved Moomins, Tove Jansson, has been named as runner-up.

Already a best-seller in numerous translations, The Eighth Life (for Brilka), first published in German in 2014 and the novelist’s third book, is an epic tale of six generations of one family as written down by the fifth of those generations, Nina Jashi, for her niece Brilka. It follows the characters from Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia, to St Petersburg, Prague, Vienna, London and Berlin, during which the reader learns how the family’s history is entwined with that of their Georgian homeland.

Judge Susan Bassnett describes it as a “terrific book”, which “may look daunting at first, but as soon as you begin to read, Nino Haratischvili’s story-telling skills draw you in to the multifaceted narrative.” She goes on to say: “This is a ‘Red Century’ of family history, from the Russian Empire to the Soviet Union; circling western European capitals and returning to Tbilisi. The opening recipe for an Elysian drinking chocolate, passed on through the generations, is symbolic of temptations, excesses and secrets to come. Finely, impressively co-translated by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin, this volume is heavy to lift but becomes impossible to put down!”

Of Jansson’s collection of letters, which encapsulates 55 years of creative and emotional intensity from 1932 to 1988, Judge Amanda Hopkinson describes the way in which the “intimate descriptions of Bohemian pre-war Helsinki alternate with trips to Paris and Athens, and long spells on North Sea islands, where Moomins dwell.” Furthermore, she characterizes it as an “unselfconscious autobiography compiled, not in serene elderly reflection, but vividly and intensely, as it was lived. Sensitively – meticulously – translated by Sarah Death.”

Both the winner and runner-up were chosen from a diverse shortlist of seven titles that included translations from Arabic, Chinese, Hungarian, Italian and Norwegian. The 2020 competition received a record 132 eligible entries, a significant increase on 2019. The fifth year of the Prize will be celebrated within the framework of Coventry City of Culture 2021.

 

Translating other people’s letters is never easy, particularly when the letters cover so many years and were written by someone as unusual as Tove Jansson, whose style changes depending on the person to whom she is writing. Sarah Death has done justice to Tove Jansson’s life and writing in this fine collection.
Judge Susan Bassnett

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FURTHER READING 

The Eighth Life – Nino Haratischvili (Reprise) – Lizzy’s Literary Life

The Eighth Life (For Brilka) by Nino Haratischvili (Review – IBP 2020, Number Five) – Tony’s Reading List

The Eighth Life (for Brilka), by Nino Haratischvili, translated by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin – ANZ LitLovers LitBlog 

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Categories: Literary Awards, Translated Literature

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24 replies

  1. ‘not in serene elderly reflection, but vividly and intensely, as it was lived.’ I’ve only read The Summer Book so far, but that describes her writing perfectly. I can’t wait to read more!

  2. Thanks for the mention:)
    I am so pleased this book won!

  3. The Eighth Life was terrific indeed, and it deserved to win. I haven’t read Tove’s letters yet, but I love her work and I’m sure I’ll love the letters too!

  4. So glad it was a good result for Tove Jansson too. I’ve ordered a copy.

  5. I haven’t been paying attention, because this had passed me by. The winner sounds interesting, I might add it to my library wishlist. I’m still hoping for Tove as some kind of Xmas gift.

  6. Paula, I’ve just had an “I saw this and thought of you” moment! I’m sure you’ve encountered this one already but just in case…

    Moomin: Tove Jansson’s Art & Pictures. Looks gorgeous!

    Letters from Tove is already on my list. The Eighth Life has now followed suit 😊

  7. I’m trying to think of another instance in which there is a runner-up protocol for literary prizes: how intriguing! For your sake, I’m pleased that your favourite got more recognition! But the overall list sounded so impressive that I imagine it must have been a very difficult process to winnow things down.

  8. Wow, this is a big book. The kind of book I used to read all the time, back before there was internet and a way for me to grow my to-read pile to staggering numbers. But I’m going to file this one away for a time when I’m in the mood for a chunkster. I’m glad your favourite is the runner-up – it sounds wonderful, too!

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