Celebrating the power of translated words: 2020 SoA Translation Prizes awards

In a series of short online films, sponsored by ALCS and featuring speeches and readings from winners and judges, six awards were presented for translations from Arabic, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Turkish in this year’s Society of Authors (SoA) Translation Prizes.

Commenting on the winning works, SoA Head of Prizes and Awards, Paula Johnson, said: “It is wonderful to be celebrating the SoA’s Translation Prizes just now. They have been awarded annually since the 1960s and they have always seemed to hold a special relevance for our times. This year’s 13 winners and runners-up and 35 short-listees are no exception – each a compelling example of the power of translated words.”

The winners:


The Premio Valle Inclán for translation from Spanish

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 Imogen Choi and James Womack.

WINNER: Katherine Silver for a translation of The Word of the Speechless by Julio Ramón Ribeyro (New York Review of Books)

Judge, James Womack, said:

“This is an astounding book, bringing into English an undeservedly little-known Peruvian writer, whose mastery of tone – there is horror here, resignation, wild humour – is entirely matched by his translator Katherine Silver’s skill in finding the right word, the right turn, to carry these complex and world-spinning stories into English.”

Runner-up: Anne McLean for a translation of Lord of All the Dead by Javier Cercas (MacLehose Press)

Sponsored by ALCS and the Society of Authors


The John Florio Prize for translation from Italian

WINNER: Jhumpa Lahiri for a translation of Trick by Domenico Starnone (Europa Editions)

Runner-up: Jenny McPhee for a translation of The Kremlin Ball by Curzio Malaparte (New York Review of Books)

Sponsored by the Italian Cultural Institute and the Society of Authors


The Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for translation from Arabic

WINNER: Kay Heikkinen for a translation of Velvet by Huzama Habayeb (Hoopoe – an imprint of AUC Press)

Sponsored by the Banipal Trust for Arab Literature and the Saif Ghobash family


The Schlegel-Tieck Prize for translation from German

WINNER: Martyn Crucefix for a translation of These Numbered Days by Peter Huchel (Shearsman Books)

Runner-up: Jamie Bulloch for a translation of You Would Have Missed Me by Birgit Vanderbeke (Peirene Press)

Sponsored by the Goethe-Institut


The Scott Moncrieff Prize for translation from French

WINNER: Aneesa Abbas Higgins for a translation of A Girl Called Eel by Ali Zamir (Jacaranda Books)
Runner-up: Frank Wynne for a translation of Animalia by Jean-Baptiste del Amo (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

Sponsored by the Institut français du Royaume-Uni and the Society of Authors


The TA First Translation Prize for a debut translation from any language

WINNER: Nicholas Glastonbury for a translation of Every Fire You Tend by Sema Kaygusuz, and edited by Saba Ahmed (Tilted Axis Press). Translated from Turkish.

Runners-up: Nicholas Royle for a translation of Pharricide by Vincent de Swarte, and edited by Tim Shearer (Confingo Publishing). Translated from French.

Sponsored by Daniel Hahn and the British Council


For more details on the winners of these awards, take a look at the SoA’s full announcement.