Translation Prize

After launching in 2018 with the inaugural year of the Peirene Stevns Translation Prize we’re thrilled to be back with a new book and a new language. The text for 2020 is…the Swedish short story collection Nordisk Fauna by Andrea Lundgren!

Download our press release to use as a poster here: Peirene Stevns Poster 2020

The Winner

We are so pleased to announce that the judges have chosen their winner: John Litell! Congratulations to John, whose sample translation was deemed the best by our panel and who now receives a £4000 commission to translate the rest of Nordisk Fauna under the mentorship of Sarah Death.

The Shortlist

After a fantastic response to the call for submissions to the Peirene Stevns Translation Prize 2020, our judges whittled the field down to a shortlist of six entrants whose samples of Nordisk Fauna particularly impressed them.

We’re delighted to announce this year’s Peirene Stevns shortlist:

Anne Cahling

Sian Edwards

Peter Elliott

Darcy Hurford

John Litell

Alice Olsson

Congratulations to the shortlisted entrants, and thank you to everyone who entered! We greatly appreciate everyone who took the time to engage with this wonderful scheme.

The Prize

The Peirene Stevns Prize is open to all emerging translators without a full published literary translation – please see guidelines for full details. The winner will receive a £4000 translation commission, up to eight weeks at a retreat in the Pyrenees, mentorship from an established translator and, of course, the publication of their full translated novel in 2021!

The mentorship: Last year’s winner J Ockenden worked with translator Jennifer Higgins and editor Gesche Ipsen on their translation. This year’s winner will work with Sarah Death; renowned Swedish translator. Over the course of the translation process, Sarah will work with the winner on all aspects of the translation process from timelines to specific language queries.

The retreat: An 18th century mill house in the foothills of the French Pyrenees. The house comfortably sleeps 5/6 and comes fully equipped including a large garden with a natural swimming pond. The village is a 10 minute walk from the retreat. Stay at the retreat is free and covered by the Peirene Stevns Prize, expenses during the retreat are not covered. 

The commission: Nordisk Fauna is 38,300 words in the original Swedish. A commission of £4000 is offered whereby £3650 represents payment for the translation at £95 per 1000 words. The rest of the monies offered, £350, is intended to cover the cost of travel to the retreat but can be used at the winner’s discretion.

The Collection

The text for this year’s prize is the Swedish short story collection Nordisk Fauna by Andrea Lundgren. The collection was published in 2018 and went on to WIN the Vi Magazine Literature Prize 2018 and be nominated for the Svenska Dagbladet Literature Prize 2018 and the Norrland Literature Prize 2019.

A train stops on the track in the middle of the night and a lonely woman steps out through the open doors following a cry from deep in the forest. And so it is to read Andrea Lundgren’s stories: one is led away by a distant sound to somewhere we cannot even imagine. These six short stories are populated by foxes, blue whales, pikes, cats, birds and people who yearn for transformation…

Meet the Judges

Sarah Death is a multi-prizewinning translator of Swedish literature of many periods and genres. Her most recent publication is Letters from Tove, the correspondence of Finland-Swedish writer and artist Tove Jansson. She spent 12 years mentoring and advising informally as editor-in-chief of the journal Swedish Book Review and more recently has been involved in several cycles of the Writers’ Centre Norwich emerging translator mentorship scheme. 

Chris Power’s short story collection Mothers was published in 2018. It was longlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize, and shortlisted for the 2019 Edge Hill Short Story Prize. His column, ‘A Brief Survey of the Short Story’, has appeared in The Guardian since 2007. He has written for the BBC, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the New Statesman. His fiction has been published in Granta, Five Dials, The Stinging Fly, The Dublin Review, and The White Review, and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. He lives with his family in London.

Gesche Ipsen is a freelance editor and translator, and has held editorial positions at Penguin, Pushkin Press and Duckworth. She has a PhD in Comparative Literature from UCL, where she founded the journal Opticon1826. She grew up in Italy and Germany, and has lived in London since Britpop was a thing. 

Last Year’s Winner

J Ockenden won the inaugural Peirene Stevns Prize in 2019. J translated Peirene No. 31 Snow, Dog, Foot which will be sent out to subscribers in December and published in February 2020.

“I worked on this story of bitter Alpine harshness from the comfort of an idyllic mill in the Pyrenees, thanks to the extraordinary generosity of Martha Stevns. In creating the Peirene Stevns Translation Prize, she and Peirene Press have provided an unparalleled opportunity for young translators to see their work in print. I am incredibly grateful to them and I look forward to reading many more translations by future prizewinners!” 

J Ockenden, Inaugural Winner


Generously Endowed by Martha Stevns

Martha Stevns grew up in the Swiss-German speaking part of Switzerland and studied German Literature and Linguistics. Her love of literature has always stayed with her, and reading in German, French and English has been and still is one of her great pleasures. Peirene’s aim of bringing literature from different cultures and languages to the English speaking world through translations of high quality writing fits right into Martha’s philosophy of appreciating and sharing the richness of different cultures.

Involvement and support of the arts has long been a part of Martha’s life: Martha worked as an editor at the Swiss art magazine, DU, as well as running her own contemporary art gallery in the UK. In addition, Martha’s late husband founded the Australian Vogels Literary Award together with the Australian newspaper and the publisher Unwin Australia for an unpublished manuscript by young Australian writers. With the Peirene Stevns Translation Prize Martha, together with Peirene, wants to support young translators and hopes it will help the breaking down of linguistic (and other) barriers. Martha moved to the UK in 1985 and now lives in Cambridge.

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