Mark Polizzotti, translator of Kibogo.

The winner of the 2024 Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize 2024 is Mark Polizzotti, for their 2022 translation of Kibogo by French-Rwandan author Scholastique Mukasonga.

The Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize is for book-length literary translations into English from any living European language. It aims to honour the craft of translation, and to recognise its cultural importance. It was founded by Lord Weidenfeld and is supported by New College, The Queen’s College, and St Anne’s College, Oxford.

This year’s judges are Christophe Barnabé, Minna Jeffery, Suzanne Jones, and Tinashe Mushakavanhu (Chair). The prize of £2000 will be awarded at the annual Oxford Translation Day at St Anne’s College, Oxford in June.

Mark Polizzotti is an author, translator, and publisher living in New York. His translations of works by Gustave Flaubert, Arthur Rimbaud, Scholastique Mukasonga, Marguerite Duras, among others, have won the English PEN Award and been shortlisted for the National Book Award, the International Booker Prize, the NBCC/Gregg Barrios Prize, and the French-American Foundation Translation Prize. He is a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the recipient of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature.

A finalist for the 2022 National Book Award, Kibogo is an account of the clash between ancient Rwandan beliefs and the missionaries determined to replace them with European Christianity. Mukasonga brings to life the mythologies that imbue the Rwandan spirit.

When a rogue priest is defrocked for fusing the gospels with the martyrdom of Kibogo, a clash of cults ensues. Kibogo’s story is reserved for the evening, when women sit around a fire drinking honeyed brew. One faithful storyteller weaves the legends of the hillside, stories which church missionaries have tried to expunge. To some, Kibogo’s tale is myth, magic, and hope, but to white priests, it is forbidden, satanic, a witchdoctor’s hoax. All debate the twisted roots of this story, but deep down, all secretly wonder – can Kibogo really summon the rain?

Congrats to Polizzotti on his excellent translation and the well-deserved win!