The PEN Translation Prize is an annual award for book-length prose translations from any language into English. Awarded annually since 1963, the award confers a $3,000 prize to the translator of the winning book.
All winners, finalists, and longlisters for this award are eligible to receive PEN America’s official emblems. If you are a publisher and interested in obtaining PEN America’s award emblem, please write to [email protected]. For more information, please visit our FAQ page.
Submissions for the 2024 cycle will be accepted June 1–August 1, 2023.
Judges: Almiro Andrade, Mayada Ibrahim, Barbara Ofosu-Somuah, Sharon E. Rhodes
Migratory Birds, Mariana Oliver (Transit Books)
Translated from the Spanish by Julia Sanches
From the judges’ citation: “In her Spanish to English translation of Mariana Oliver’s Migratory Birds, Julia Sanches deftly captures Oliver’s grappling with the betweenness of language and translation, and the artful simplicity of the author’s poetic prose comes across beautifully. Our era is rife with nationalistic sentiment based on the idea that a given person belongs to a singular place, that to be stationary is the only right way to be and that to migrate is essentially criminal. Oliver’s probing of this thought extends to languages as well as physical places. As she writes, “authors who write in languages that are not their own are frequently interrogated about their motivations, as though words were also private property. […] Perhaps people believe deep down that authors who do not write in the language of their mothers are taking something that is not theirs, that they are writing where they don’t belong, that they are word thieves.” There are plenty of historical references to contradict this notion, to suggest, indeed, that migration is as natural to humans as to so many species of birds, but we have never before read such a light yet profound illustration of this principle as in Migratory Birds, brought to new audiences in Sanches’ outstanding translation.”
FEM, Magda Cârneci (Deep Vellum)
Translated from the Romanian by Sean Cotter
New Year, Juli Zeh (World Editions)
Translated from the German by Alta L. Price
Migratory Birds, Mariana Oliver (Transit Books)
Translated from the Spanish by Julia Sanches
The Last One: A Novel, Fatima Daas (Other Press)
Translated from the French by Lara Vergnaud
Kaya Days: A Novel, Carl de Souza (Two Line Press)
Translated from the French by Jeffrey Zuckerman
(This award was formerly named the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize.)
2021 Emma Ramadan for A Country for Dying: A Novel, Abdellah Taïa (Seven Stories Press), translated from the French
2006 Philip Gabriel, Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (Knopf), translated from the Japanese
2005 Tim Wilkinson, Fatelessness by Imre Kertesz (Vintage), translated from the Hungarian
2004 Margaret Sayers Peden, Sepharad by Antonio Muñoz Molina (Mariner), translated from the Spanish
2003 R.W. Flint, The Moon and the Bonfires by Cesare Pavese (New York Review of Books), translated from the Italian
2002 Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (Viking), translated from the Russian
2001 Tiina Nunnally, Kristin Lavransdatter III: The Cross by Sigrid Undset (Penguin), translated from the Norwegian
2000 Richard Sieburth, Selected Writings by Gerard De Nerval (Penguin), translated from the French
1999 Michael Hofmann, The Tale of the 1002nd Night by Joseph Roth (St. Martin’s), translated from the German
1998 Peter Constantine, Six Early Stories by Thomas Mann (Sun & Moon), translated from the German
1997 Arnold Pomerans, The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh (Viking), translated from the Dutch
1996 Stanislaw Baranczak & Clare Cavanagh, View With a Grain of Sand by Wislawa Szymborska (Harcourt), translated from the Polish
1995 Burton Watson, Selected Poems of Su Tung–p’o (Copper Canyon), translated from the Chinese
1994 Bill Zavatsky & Zack Rogow, Earthlight by André Breton (Sun & Moon), translated from the French
1993 Thomas Hoisington, The Adventures of Mr. Nicholas Wisdom by Ignacy Krasicki (Northwestern University Press), translated from the Polish
1992 David Rosenberg, The Poet’s Bible (Hyperion), from the Hebrew
1991 Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky, The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (North Point Press), translated from the Russian
1990 William Weaver, Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich), translated from the Italian
1989 Matthew Ward, The Stranger by Albert Camus (Random House), translated from the French
1988 Madeline Levine & Francine Prose, A Scrap of Time by Ida Fink (Pantheon), translated from the Polish
1987 John E. Woods, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind (Knopf), translated from the German
1986 Prose: Barbara Bray, The Lover by Marguerite Duras (Pantheon), translated from the French
Poetry: Dennis Tedlock, Popol Vuh: The Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life by Dennis Tedlock (Simon and Schuster), translated from the K’iche’
1985 Prose: Helen R. Lane, The War at the End of the World by Mario Vargas Llosa (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), translated from the Spanish
Poetry: Seamus Heaney, Sweeney Astray by Seamus Heaney (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
1984 William Weaver, The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich), translated from the Italian
1983 Richard Wilbur, Four Comedies: The Misanthrope, Tartuffe, The Learned Ladies, The School for Wives by Molière Jean Baptiste Poquelin De Moliere (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich), translated from the French
1982 Hiroaki Sato & Burton Watson, From the Country of Eight Islands: An Anthology of Japanese Poetry (Anchor Press/University of Washington Press), translated from the Japanese
1981 John E. Woods, Evening Edged in Gold by Arno Schmidt (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich), translated from the German
1980 Charles Simic, Homage to the Lame Wolf by Vasko Popa (Oberlin College/Field Translation Series), translated from the Serbian
1979 Charles Wright, The Storm and other poems by Eugenio Montale (Oberlin College/Field Translation Series), translated from the Italian
1978 Adrienne Foulke, One Way or Another by Leonardo Sciascia (Harper & Row), translated from the Italian
1977 Gregory Rabassa, Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Harper & Row), translated from the Spanish
1976 Richard Howard, A Short History of Decay by E. M. Cioran (Viking Press), translated from the French
1975 Helen R. Lane, Count Julian by Juan Goytisolo (Viking Press/Richard Seaver Books), translated from the Spanish
1974 Hardie St. Martin & Leonard Mades, The Obscene Bird of Night by Jose Donoso (Knopf), translated from the Spanish
1973 J. P. McCullough, The Poems of Sextus Propertius by Propertius (University of California Press), translated from the Latin
1972 Richard & Clara Winston, Letters of Thomas Mann by Thomas Mann (Knopf), translated from the German
1971 Max Hayward, Hope Against Hope by Nadezhda Mandelstam (Atheneum), translated from the Russian
1970 Sidney Alexander, The History of Italy by Francesco Guicciardini (Macmillan), translated from the Italian
1969 W. S. Merwin, Selected Translations 1948-1968 (Atheneum), translated from various languages
1968 Vladimir Markov & Merrill Sparks, editors Modern Russian Poetry (Bobbs–Merrill), translated from the Russian
1967 Harriet de Onis, Sagarana by J. Guimaraes Rosa (Knopf), translated from the Portuguese
1966 Geoffrey Skelton & Adrian Mitchell, Marat\Sade by Peter Weiss (Atheneum), translated from the German
1965 Joseph Barnes, The Story of a Life by Konstantin Paustovsky (Pantheon), translated from the Russian
1964 Ralph Manheim, The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass (Pantheon), translated from the German
1963 Archibald Colquhoun, The Viceroys by Federico de Roberto (Harcourt Brace), translated from the Italian
Who is Eligible:
- Eligible titles must be original book-length literary prose translations published between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022, by a U.S. trade publisher.
- Eligible books will be translated by up to two living translators. Books may have no more than two translators.
- Eligible books must be previously published in a language other than English.
- Translators and authors may be of any nationality. U.S. residency or citizenship is not required.
- Eligible titles are of a literary character.
- If you submit a book for this award, you may not submit it for any additional PEN America Literary Awards, with the exception of the PEN Open Book Award. Please note that the PEN/Faulkner Award is not considered a PEN America Literary Award.
- Poetry, trade, technical, or academic writing and anthologies with more than one original author.
- Self-published books.
- Reprints or retranslations, unless the work can be said to provide a significant revision of the original translation.
- Books with more than two translators.
- Translations-in-progress are not accepted; to submit a translation-in-progress, please see the PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants.
- PEN America will only accept submissions from publishers or literary agents. Authors may not submit their own book for this award.
- On the submission form, please select the award you are submitting to.
- Please submit verified email addresses on the submission form. Your order cannot be processed without an email address, and this information will be used to later contact you regarding your submission.
- Upload a PDF file of the galley or final manuscript on the book submissions form. Following pandemic-related protocols, book award submissions will be read as PDF files. Please upload the file saved as BOOKTITLE_AUTHORNAME. For the judges’ convenience, please upload a book file WITHOUT watermarks. Each book file will be kept confidentially between the Literary Awards team and the awards judges. Please note that if a book is longlisted, PEN America may request a physical copy be sent to the judging panel.
- Upload a high-resolution book jacket photo. This may be used later if the book is longlisted, a finalist, or a winner.
- Please download the declaration of eligibility. Complete all fields and have the editor or publisher sign to confirm the book’s eligibility. Please upload this document along with the rest of your application on the submission form.
- Each submission is $85. Please note that due to health concerns surrounding COVID-19, we are asking that all submissions payments be made via credit card. Submission fees are not refundable.
- Submission fees may be waived for publishers whose annual net sales are less than $2 million. In order to have fees waived, have a company official write a letter on company letterhead stating that the press’s annual net sales are less than $2 million. Please send this letter as a PDF attachment to [email protected]. Do not submit before emailing this document to the Literary Awards team, as they will provide you with an alternative submission method.
- Once the submitted book is received and reviewed for eligibility by PEN America, it will be passed along to the judges. Please add [email protected] to your address book, as it will be the main point of contact from PEN America.