Some great translation news! Three translations of books by African authors have won English PEN’s flagship translation awards.

These awards, which have been running since 2012, fund translations that are in progress. They are aimed to help UK publishers meet the costs of translating new works into English while ensuring that translators are acknowledged and paid for their work.

The titles by African authors that have won the awards this year are:

  1. The Djinn’s Apple by Djamila Morani, translated from the Arabic by Sawad Hussain. Forthcoming from Neem Tree Press. Country of origin: Algeria.
  2. Little Brother, by Ibrahima Balde and Amets Arzallus Antia, translated from the Basque by Timberlake Wertenbaker. Forthcoming from Scribe. Countries of origin: Guinea, Spain, and France.
  3. Voices of the Two Shores, by Agnès Agboton, translated from the Gun and Spanish by Lawrence Schimel. Forthcoming from flipped eye publishing. Countries of origin: Benin and Spain.

The Djinn’s Apple is a young adult novel. It is set during the caliphate of Haroun al-Rashid and narrated by a twelve-year old, Nardeen, who witnesses the murder of her family and comes to learn of the reasons for this act. Words Without Borders published an excerpt of the forthcoming translation by Sawad Hussain here.

Little Brother is the story of Ibrahima Balde, a refugee from Guinea who is living in a homeless shelter in Spain. It follows Balde’s journey to Europe in search of his brother, Alhassane, who himself had left for Europe to earn money for their family. The book is written with Amets Arzallus Antia, and the translation by acclaimed playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker is scheduled for release in June 2021. Pre-order the book here.

In correspondence, translator Lawrence Schimel informed Brittle Paper that Voices of the Two Shores includes Agboton’s two poetry collections: Canciones del poblado y del exilio, which won the 30th Premi de Poesia Vila de Martorell prize and which was published in 2006, and Voz de las dos orillas, which was published in 2009. Translations of poems from these collections have appeared in the anthologies New Daughters of Africa, edited by Margaret Busby, and Poems on the Edge of Extinction, edited by Chris McCabe, as well as the poetry magazine Modern Poetry in Translation.

We’re definitely looking forward to adding these titles to our TBR list!