The inaugural Warwick Prize for Women in Translation has been announced. Meant to focus a greater share of attention on women writers from around the world at a time when literature in translation seems to be gaining ground and awards are seen as a particularly effective means of drawing public interest (and if they could get Warren Beatty for the award ceremony, and if the wrong envelope was given…well, just imagine).
I think a literary prize is a good idea precisely because it will direct attention towards a particular woman writer’s book, whereas the idea of addressing “the gender imbalance in translated literature”, as the award-site states, while a practical necessity, misses the point in many respects. There is a feeling that international women writers are being unfairly held back from the English-language market, which of course they are, but I think the biggest losers of the gender imbalance in translation are English-language readers, who don’t have access to so many great writers from all over the world, not only contemporary, but even classic writers.
Rather than promoting an acceptable percentile balance the most compelling argument are actual writers and their work, which I’ve tried to do as well in B O D Y’s Saturday European Fiction, recently publishing work by the German writer Thomas Mann called the “First Lady of Europe”, Ricarda Huch, Yiddish writer Yenta Mash, Polish writer Mirka Szychowiak and work upcoming from Croatian writer Tea Tulić as well as many more over the past few years
The £1,000 prize will be awarded in November 2017 and will be split between writer and translator, as long as the writer is still alive. If not the translator keeps everything. The book has to have been published in the UK or Ireland. All other info can be found on the application form here.