Desta Haile

Desta Hailé was announced the winner of the “To Speak Europe In Different Languages” Literary Award on September 18, 2020.

“To Speak Europe In Different Languages” is a literary award aimed at “recognizing the wounds and wonders of language, in order to endorse and enhance the border-crossing, category-defying qualities of our contemporary world.” It is organised by the European Cultural Foundation in collaboration with The Babel Review of Translations and the Asmara-Addis Literary Festival (In Exile).

The judges for the award this year are Mihret kebede, Shadi Rohana, Maaza Mengiste, Sumia Jaama, and Abraham T. Zere. This panel has announced the shortlist of five writers for the award on August 26.

Bangkok-born British-Eritrean vocalist and educator Desta Hailé was announced the winner of the prize at a ceremony at “Babel. Festival of literature and translation”, Bellinzona, Switzerland. She is the Creative Director of Languages through Music and co-founder of Sisters Only Language Summit. She holds an MA in Black British Writing from Goldsmiths, University of London. Her winning story was York to Teheran.

A statement from the judging panel stated; “History often forgets personal diaries. Using her aunt’s diary with its extensive and detailed stories, Desta Haile revisits the days and places her aunt travelled. In the process, she forms a bridge between the past and the present, and examines questions of migration and freedom that we all continue to ask today. Her approach is multi-faceted, merging the physicality of the handwritten paper, boarding pass, train-ticket, and photographs with evocative and powerful writing. Poetic and insightful, York to Tehran encompasses different genres, images and collective writing to re-define what it means to speak Europe in another language.”

She will be published in Specimen Press, a multilingual web-magazine which through translation gives voice to the multifaceted world, and receive a 2,000 Euros cash prize.