Translation Prize

The Peirene Stevns Translation Prize 2023 is now open.

This year, the prize is aimed at emerging translators from German to English. Entrants are invited to translate a sample from Ein simpler Eingriff by Swiss writer Yael Inokai (Carl Hanser Verlag, 2022) – a haunting and powerful novel following a young nurse in a psychiatric unit, as she loses her faith in the medical establishment. The prize winner receives a £3850 commission to translate Ein simpler Eingriff, a translation retreat in the French Pyrenees, and a translation mentorship from an established literary translator.

Established in 2018 with the generous support of Martha Stevns to provide opportunities for emerging translators, the prize is open to any translator over the age of 18 who has not yet published a full length literary translation.

For entry instructions and eligibility guidelines, please click here

To download the entry sample, please click here

The Prize

The Mentorship: This year’s winner will work with Jamie Bulloch, an acclaimed translator of German literature. Jamie will offer the winner feedback and advice and work with them on all aspects of the translation process.

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 closest village is a 10 minute walk from the retreat. Stay at the retreat is free and covered by the Peirene Stevns Translation Prize; expenses and travel during the retreat are not covered.

The Book: Ein simpler Eingriff is the third novel by Swiss writer Yael Inokai. It follows Meret, a nurse in a psychiatric clinic. The hospital is her home, and she wears her uniform with pride, until one day a new type of intervention is developed that is intended to free patients, particularly women, from mental illness. The side-effects are painful, but then the healing begins. Meret believes in the new procedure, until she falls in love with a fellow nurse, and begins to doubt her previously held convictions and to lose her faith in the power of medicine.

Judges

Jamie Bulloch, Translator, Peirene Stevns 2023 Mentor

Jamie Bulloch is the translator of almost fifty books from German including works by Daniela Krien, Timur Vermes, Robert Menasse, Arno Geiger, Romy Hausmann and Sebastian Fitzek. He is the translator of six Peirene titles: Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman, Sea of Ink, The Mussel FeastThe Empress and the CakeThe Last Summer and You Would Have Missed Me. His translation of Birgit Vanderbeke’s The Mussel Feast won the Schlegel-Tieck Prize, an award in which he has been runner-up on two further occasions. He is also the author of Karl Renner: Austria. Jamie lives in London with his wife and three daughters.

Sarah Hemens, Project Director, New Books in German

Sarah has developed and managed the New Books in German project for the last three years. New Books in German is an online publication promoting German-language literature for translation into English in the UK, USA, and beyond. Before this, she worked in grant-writing, communications, and publications for international NGOs and charities. She raised funds from government and foundation donors in Europe, the United States, and Africa. Sarah has experience as a reader for a literary agent in London. Sarah holds an MA (Hons.) in German from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in International Human Rights Law and Practice from the London School of Economics.

Past Winners

Winning the Peirene Stevns Translation Prize has been a truly wonderful experience – from an unforgettable stay at Martha Stevn’s beautiful home in the Pyrenees, to the chance to spend months immersed in the genius of the late Victor Heringer and his remarkable novel, and of course the privilege of learning from a translator as brilliant as Sophie Lewis. The prize is an incredible and unique opportunity for anyone hoping to develop a career as a literary translator.

– James Young, winner of the 2022 Peirene Stevns Translation Prize

Since winning the prize I have been on an amazing journey: from first drafts, to corresponding with Manuel Astur, to crafting the text – all under Sophie Hughes’ expert guidance – to seeing the editor at work. I’m looking forward immensely to the next stage and am so grateful to Peirene Press and Martha Stevns.

– Claire Wadie, winner of the 2021 Peirene Stevns Translation Prize

Translating the iconic Swedish landscape of Andrea Lundgren’s Nordic Fauna was a delightful challenge. The experience was made possible by Martha Stevns’s insight and generosity in founding the Peirene Stevns Translation Prize, which provides aspiring translators the opportunity to do meaningful and fascinating work, learn from the best and find a path forward. I’m deeply grateful to her, my mentor Sarah Death and Peirene Press for the close and effective working relationship we enjoyed throughout the process.

John Litell, winner of the 2020 Peirene Stevns Translation Prize

I worked on a story of bitter Alpine harshness [Snow, Dog, Foot] 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, winner of the 2019 Peirene Stevns Translation Prize

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.