The Peirene Stevns Translation Prize 2024 is now open
This year the prize is aimed at emerging translators from Dutch to English. Entrants are invited to translate a sample from Zee Nu by the Dutch writer Eva Meijer – a timely novel about the greatest global challenge of our time. Entries close March 4th 2024 (12 noon GMT).
The prize winner receives a £5,200 commission to translate Zee Nu, a translation retreat in the French Pyrenees, and a mentorship from International Booker Prize-winning translator Michele Hutchison.
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 work of fiction in translation.
Entrants must translate the selected sample of Zee Nu into English and submit it along with a translator’s note and a CV. There is a £15 entry fee (for exemptions see the guidelines).
This year’s winner will work with Michele Hutchison, acclaimed translator from Dutch and co-winner of the 2020 International Booker Prize. Michele will offer the winning translator feedback and advice throughout the translation process, and support them as they embark on their first full length literary translation.
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 winning translator will receive a £5,200 commission to translate Zee Nu by Eva Meijer (Uitgeverij Cossee, 2022). The Netherlands is flooding: the Prime Minister holds a daily press conference, the Ministry of Defence sends soldiers to the dykes, scientists flock from far and wide, conspiracy theorists shout for Action! on Twitter, while the discount retailer ACTION advertises a ‘One-off Opportunity’ for four life jackets for the price of three. Meanwhile, the sea is gaining a kilometre of land every day and there is nothing left to do but evacuate. Zee Nu follows climate activist Arie, school student Willow, and oceanographer Paula van der Steen on a voyage across the new sea, as the water fundamentally changes their view of the world. Eva Meijer is a prizewinning Dutch writer, artist, singer, songwriter and philosopher. She is the author of fifteen books, and her work has been translated into over twenty languages.
Peirene Stevns mentor and International Booker Prize-winning translator
Michele Hutchison was born in the UK and has lived in Amsterdam since 2004. She was educated at UEA, Cambridge, and Lyon universities. She translates literary fiction and nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, and children’s books. Recent translations include works by Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, Raoul Deleo, Octavie Wolters, Gerda Blees, and Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, with whom she shared the 2020 International Booker Prize for The Discomfort of Evening. She is also co-author of the successful parenting book The Happiest Kids in the World.
Literary translator and agent for Sebes & Bisseling UK
Haico Kaashoek is a literary translator from Dutch and a literary agent for Sebes & Bisseling’s new English-language branch in the UK. He also regularly works with the Dutch Foundation for Literature to promote Dutch nonfiction abroad. Previously, he worked in foreign rights for the Dutch publishing house De Bezige Bij. Born in the Netherlands and raised in California, he studied English, Philosophy and Comparative Literature in Los Angeles and Amsterdam. He now lives in London.
Literary translator and academic
Paul Vincent studied at Cambridge and Amsterdam, and after teaching Dutch at the University of London for over twenty years became a full time translator in 1989. Since then he has published a wide variety of translated poetry, non-fiction and fiction, including work by Achterberg, Claus, Couperus, Elsschot, Jellema, Mulisch, De Moor and Van den Brink. He is a member of the society of Dutch Literature in Leiden, and has won the Reid Prize for poetry translation, the Vondel Prize for Dutch-English translation and (jointly) the Oxford-Weidenfeld 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.
With support from The Dutch Foundation for Literature
The Dutch Foundation for Literature has the task of supporting writers and translators, and of promoting Dutch literature abroad. It invests in the quality and diversity of literature through grants for writers, translators, publishers and festivals, and contributes to the production and distribution of Dutch and Frisian literature at home and abroad. With the support of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, it aims to promote a thriving literary climate, embedded in literary history and attuned to the latest developments in the publishing industry.
‘Thank you so much to Martha Stevns and Peirene Press for such a wonderful prize. At every stage of the process, I’ve been in my element: immersing myself in the novel, working with my brilliant mentor, Jamie Bulloch, exploring alternatives with Yael Inokai directly, and going through the nitty gritty with Peirene’s editors. I even got to exchange ideas with translators working on the text in different target languages. I felt fully supported, and learned as much about preparing a text for publication as about the creative process of translation.’– Marielle Sutherland, winner of the 2023 Peirene Stevns Translation Prize
‘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