35 translations from nine languages: the seven shortlists for the 2019 Society of Authors’ Translation Prizes

The Society of Authors has announced seven shortlists for its annual Translation Prizes. Sharing a total prize fund worth almost £20,000, the winners will be announced at The British Library Knowledge Centre on Wednesday 12 February 2020.

The 35 works, translated from nine languages that are shortlisted for the 2019 Society of Authors’ Translation Prizes are described by the judges as ‘vivid’, ‘intense’, ‘compelling’ and ‘seeming to accomplish the impossible’. They include outstanding translations into English from German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Dutch and Hebrew. ALCS is once again delighted to co-sponsor two of the seven awards whose shortlists are detailed below.



An annual award of £1,000 for translations into English of full-length French works of literary merit and general interest. This year’s judges are Professor Susan Harrow and Dr Sudhir Hazareesingh.

The shortlist:

  • Linda Coverdale for a translation of The Old Slave and the Mastiff  by Patrick Chamoiseau (Dialogue Books)
    The judges said: “As illuminating as it is beautiful.  This is much more than a translation.”
  • Penny Hueston for a translation of Our Life in the Forest by Marie Darrieussecq (Text Publishing)
    The judges said: “Penny Hueston’s excellent translation brings out the bleakness of this dystopian feminist thriller.”
  • Adriana Hunter for a translation of Women at Sea by Catherine Poulain (Jonathan Cape)
    The judges said: “An unforgettable literary experience.”
  • Tina Kover for a translation of Disoriental by Négar Djavadi (Europa Editions)
    The judges said: “Tina Kover’s superb translation sensitively captures the emotional depth of this gripping debut novel about Iran’s violent history in the modern era.”
  • Geoffrey Strachan for a translation of Tropic of Violence by Nathacha Appanah (MacLehose Press)
    The judges said: “Geoffrey Strachan’s remarkable translation draws out the harshness and precarious quality of life in the French Indian Ocean territories.”
  • David Warriner for a translation of We Were the Salt of the Sea by Roxanne Bouchard (Orenda Books)
    The judges said: “Achieves an exquisite weaving of the voices that resonate through this profound work that is at once ocean-faring chronicle and detective novel.”

Sponsored by the Institut Français du Royaume-Uni, ALCS and the Society of Authors.



An annual prize of £2,000 for translations into English of full-length Spanish language works of literary merit and general interest. This year’s judges are Professor Peter Bush and Dr Laura Lonsdale. 

The shortlist:

  • Nick Caistor for a translation of Springtime in a Broken Mirror by Mario Benedetti (Penguin Classics)
    The judges said: “This is a beautiful, lucid rendering of a previously untranslated novel by the Uruguayan author, which navigates the voices and experiences of its characters with subtlety and grace.”
  • Charlotte Coombe for a translation of Fish Soup by Margarita García Robayo (Charco Press)
    The judges said: “This sparky, lively translation brilliantly captures the laconic tone of Margarita García Robayo’s stories.”
  • William Gregory for a translation of The Oberon Anthology of Contemporary Spanish Plays by Borja Ortiz de Gondra, Blanca Doménech, Víctor Sánchez Rodríguez, Vanessa Montfort, and Julio Escalada (Oberon Books)
    The judges said: “Always sensitive to the cultural and linguistic contexts from which the plays emerge, William Gregory has a sharp ear for speech, dialogue, and linguistic humour that lifts the words off the page.”
  • Sophie Hughes for a translation of The Remainder (And Other Stories) by Alia Trabucco Zeran
    The judges said: “The translation by Sophie Hughes brilliantly recreates a narrative movement in English that grasps the reader from the first sentence.”
  • Jessica Sequeirafor a translation of Land of Smoke by Sara Gallardo (Pushkin Press)
    The judges said: “beautifully recreates the quirky edginess and constant ability to surprise of these short fictions.”

Sponsored by ALCS and the Society of Authors.


For details of the other prize shortlists, visit the Society of Authors’ Translation Prizes page.


About the Society of Authors’ Translation Prizes 2019
The Society of Authors promotes and supports ten translation prizes, seven of which will be presented on 12 February 2020.


About the Society of Authors
The Society of Authors is the UK trade union for all types of writers, scriptwriters, illustrators and literary translators, at all stages of their careers. It has more than 11,000 members and has been advising individuals and speaking out for the profession for more than a century. In 2019, it awarded more than £600,000 in prizes and grants (for fiction, non-fiction, poetry and translation), and administered the ALCS Educational Writers’ Award and The Sunday Times/University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Award. societyofauthors.org