Writers of African descent at English PEN’s Translate Awards 2021.

Maryse Condé, Françoise Vergès and Abdourahman Waberi won at the English PEN’s translation awards announced on December 21, 2021.

Books from 15 countries and 13 languages have won English PEN’s flagship translation awards. The 18 awards go to titles by 17 different publishers. They include novels, short story collections, reportage, poetry collections and epic verse, children’s literature and political writing, and – for the first time – titles from Djibouti and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and work translated from the Mè’phàà and the Char-Chapori dialect of Assamese and Bengali. Among the awarded titles are the first collection of Miyah poetry in translation and the first children’s book in Hungarian to feature LGBTQ+ protagonists.

Will Forrester, Translation and International Manager at English PEN, said, “Not only are these eighteen books exceptional works of literature, but they also attest to the current vitality of translated literature publishing. This is the most publishers ever awarded in a single PEN Translates round. Their books, united as works of outstanding writing and translating, span extraordinary differences in form, theme, geography and style: we have protest poetry, the political history of football, gritty short fiction, poetry from an Indigenous language of the Americas, and all-embracing children’s literature, all sitting side by side. This is a thrilling set of books, and English PEN is thrilled to be helping them get to UK readers.

The following writers of African descent won;

  • The Gospel According to the New World by Maryse Condé, translated from the French by Richard Philcox (World Editions). Country of origin: France
  • A Feminist Theory of Violence by Françoise Vergès, translated from the French by Melissa Thackway (Pluto Press). Country of origin: France.
  • Why Do You Dance When You Walk? by Abdourahman Waberi, translated from the French by Nicola Bell and David Bell (Cassava Republic Press). Country of origin: Djibouti.