PEN America Literary Awards PEN Translation Prize

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 awards@pen.org. For more information, please visit our FAQ page.

Submissions for the 2023 cycle are now open and will close on August 1, 2022. Submit here.

Featured Winner

Judges: Almiro Andrade, Mayada Ibrahim, Barbara Ofosu-Somuah, Sharon E. Rhodes

Migratory Birds, Mariana Oliver (Transit Books)

Translated from the Spanish by Julia Sanches

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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 There are plenty of historical references to contradict this notion, to suggest, indeed, that migration is as natural to humans as to so many species of birds, but we have never before read such a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.”

2021 Finalists

FEMMagda Cârneci (Deep Vellum)
Translated from the Romanian by Sean Cotter
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New Year, Juli Zeh (World Editions)
Translated from the German by Alta L. Price
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Migratory Birds, Mariana Oliver (Transit Books)
Translated from the Spanish by Julia Sanches
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The Last One: A Novel, Fatima Daas (Other Press)
Translated from the French by Lara Vergnaud
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Kaya Days: A Novel, Carl de Souza (Two Line Press)
Translated from the French by Jeffrey Zuckerman
Bookshop 

History

Previous Winners

(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

2020 Allison Markin Powell for The Ten Loves of Nishino by Hiromi Kawakami (Europa Editions), translated from the Japanese

2019 Martin Aitken for Love by Hanne Ørstavik (Archipelago Books), translated from the Norwegian

2018 Len Rix for Katalin Street by Magda Szabo (NYRB Classics), translated from the Hungarian

2017 Tess Lewis for Angel of Oblivion by Maja Haderlap (Archipelago Books), translated from the German

2016 Katrina Dodson forThe Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector (New Directions), translated from the Portuguese

2015 Denise Newman for Baboon by Naja Marie Aidt (Two Lines Press), translated from the Danish

2014 Joanne Turnbull & Nikolai Formozov for Autobiography of a Corpse by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (New York Review Books), translated from the Russian

2013 Donald O. White for The Island of Second Sight by Albert Vigoleis (Overlook Press), translated from the German

2012 Bill Johnston for Stone upon Stone by Wieslaw Mysliwski (Archipelago Books), translated from the Polish

2011 Ibrahim Muhawi for Journal of an Ordinary Grief by Mahmoud Darwish (Archipelago Books), translated from the Arabic

2010 Michael Henry Heim for Wonder by Hugo Claus (Archipelago), translated from the Dutch

2009 Natasha Wimmer for 2666 by Roberto Bolaño (FSG), translated from the Spanish

2008 Margaret Jull Costa for The Maias by Jose Maria Eca de Queiros (New Directions), translated from the Portuguese

2007 Sandra Smith for Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky (Knopf), 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

Eligibility

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.

NOT Eligible:

  • 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.

Submission Guidelines

  • 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 awards@pen.org. 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 awards@pen.org to your address book, as it will be the main point of contact from PEN America.

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