PEN Award winners 2014

PEN America have announced the winners of most, though not all, of this year’s lucrative and sought after literary awards. Of Literalab interest is, above all, the PEN Translation Prize, which goes to Joanne Turnbull and Nikolai Formozov for their translation of Autobiography of a Corpse by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, which was on the Best Translated Book Award longlist and might have made the shortlist had a written the essay pressing for its case to win but I was committed to Jáchym Topol’s novel. This was not only because I loved Topol’s novel but out of a cold calculation that were he to get the prize there was a much better chance he might sport me a drink or two with his winnings since, unlike Krzhizhanovsky, he’s alive. In the end, neither book made it onto the shortlist, though they were my two favorites, particularly as they were the only two books I read.

Back to PEN though. Archipelago gets another notch in their belt with the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation for Diaries of Exile by Yannis Ritsos, translated from the Greek by Karen Emmerich and Edmund Keeley.

Incidentally, the translation awards are $3,000 and the sports writing awards are $5,000, while the to-be-announced American fiction awards that will undoubtedly go to a writer who had a six or seven figure advance for his/her book is $25,000.

I also can’t give up the totally irrational and idiotic hope, as I look down the list of literary prizes every year, that I will see my name listed there, with a flush of surprise as it’s not even next to a $2,500 or $5,000 award but a $50,000 lifetime achievement award. It doesn’t matter that I don’t even qualify for any of them. The closest I got though was seeing Lorin Stein, who was one of the judges. Maybe next year.

You can see the list of lucky winners here

Photo – Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, who Stalin wasn’t exactly showering with literary awards during his lifetime, but better late/posthumous than never I suppose.

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Categories: Literary Prizes


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