The PEN Translation Prize is an annual award for book-length prose translations from any language into English published during the current calendar year. Awarded annually since 1963, the award confers a $3,000 prize to the translator of the winning book.
All winners and finalists for this award are eligible to receive PEN America’s official winner or finalist seal. If you are a publisher of a shortlisted or winning book for this award and are interested in obtaining the PEN America award seal, please write to [email protected]. For more information, please visit our FAQ page.
Submissions for the 2021 cycle will be open June 15–August 15, 2020. Submit here.
Honoring books published in 2019.
JUDGES: Sean Gasper Bye, Jim Hicks, Geoffrey C. Howes, Sara Khalili, Elizabeth Lowe, Jenny McPhee
Featured Winner: Allison Markin Powell
From the judges’ citation: “Allison Markin Powell has translated best-selling Japanese author Hiromi Kawakami’s novel The Ten Loves of Nishino into sparkling, subtle English. Calling Kawakami’s title character a Lothario would reduce him to precisely the stereotype that the book’s 10 chapters dismantle. Each of the 10 women, even as she accepts Nishino’s fickleness as the price for partaking of his charms, has her own voice, attitude, and agency; Powell renders them all in a nimble, nuanced style that is at once colloquial and crystalline. The translation deftly conveys Kawakami’s gentle but incisive wit, keeping the reader from settling into any easy preconceptions based on nationality or gender.”
Honorable Mention: The judges also felt strongly that Jody Gladding’s translation of If You Cross the River by Geneviève Damas shows remarkable skill and delicacy of touch, resulting in a text that is vivid, elegant, and profound.
(This award was formerly named the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize.)
2006 Philip Gabriel, Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (Knopf), translated from the Japanese
2005 Tim Wilkinson, Fatelessness by Imre Kertesz (Vintage), translated from the Hungarian
2004 Margaret Sayers Peden, Sepharad by Antonio Muñoz Molina (Mariner), translated from the Spanish
2003 R.W. Flint, The Moon and the Bonfires by Cesare Pavese (New York Review of Books), translated from the Italian
2002 Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (Viking), translated from the Russian
2001 Tiina Nunnally, Kristin Lavransdatter III: The Cross by Sigrid Undset (Penguin), translated from the Norwegian
2000 Richard Sieburth, Selected Writings by Gerard De Nerval (Penguin), translated from the French
1999 Michael Hofmann, The Tale of the 1002nd Night by Joseph Roth (St. Martin’s), translated from the German
1998 Peter Constantine, Six Early Stories by Thomas Mann (Sun & Moon), translated from the German
1997 Arnold Pomerans, The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh (Viking), translated from the Dutch
1996 Stanislaw Baranczak & Clare Cavanagh, View With a Grain of Sand by Wislawa Szymborska (Harcourt), translated from the Polish
1995 Burton Watson, Selected Poems of Su Tung–p’o (Copper Canyon), translated from the Chinese
1994 Bill Zavatsky & Zack Rogow, Earthlight by André Breton (Sun & Moon), translated from the French
1993 Thomas Hoisington, The Adventures of Mr. Nicholas Wisdom by Ignacy Krasicki (Northwestern University Press), translated from the Polish
1992 David Rosenberg, The Poet’s Bible (Hyperion), from the Hebrew
1991 Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky, The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (North Point Press), translated from the Russian
1990 William Weaver, Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich), translated from the Italian
1989 Matthew Ward, The Stranger by Albert Camus (Random House), translated from the French
1988 Madeline Levine & Francine Prose, A Scrap of Time by Ida Fink (Pantheon), translated from the Polish
1987 John E. Woods, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind (Knopf), translated from the German
1986 Prose: Barbara Bray, The Lover by Marguerite Duras (Pantheon), translated from the French
Poetry: Dennis Tedlock, Popol Vuh: The Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life by Dennis Tedlock (Simon and Schuster), translated from the K’iche’
1985 Prose: Helen R. Lane, The War at the End of the World by Mario Vargas Llosa (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), translated from the Spanish
Poetry: Seamus Heaney, Sweeney Astray by Seamus Heaney (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
1984 William Weaver, The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich), translated from the Italian
1983 Richard Wilbur, Four Comedies: The Misanthrope, Tartuffe, The Learned Ladies, The School for Wives by Molière Jean Baptiste Poquelin De Moliere (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich), translated from the French
1982 Hiroaki Sato & Burton Watson, From the Country of Eight Islands: An Anthology of Japanese Poetry (Anchor Press/University of Washington Press), translated from the Japanese
1981 John E. Woods, Evening Edged in Gold by Arno Schmidt (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich), translated from the German
1980 Charles Simic, Homage to the Lame Wolf by Vasko Popa (Oberlin College/Field Translation Series), translated from the Serbian
1979 Charles Wright, The Storm and other poems by Eugenio Montale (Oberlin College/Field Translation Series), translated from the Italian
1978 Adrienne Foulke, One Way or Another by Leonardo Sciascia (Harper & Row), translated from the Italian
1977 Gregory Rabassa, Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Harper & Row), translated from the Spanish
1976 Richard Howard, A Short History of Decay by E. M. Cioran (Viking Press), translated from the French
1975 Helen R. Lane, Count Julian by Juan Goytisolo (Viking Press/Richard Seaver Books), translated from the Spanish
1974 Hardie St. Martin & Leonard Mades, The Obscene Bird of Night by Jose Donoso (Knopf), translated from the Spanish
1973 J. P. McCullough, The Poems of Sextus Propertius by Propertius (University of California Press), translated from the Latin
1972 Richard & Clara Winston, Letters of Thomas Mann by Thomas Mann (Knopf), translated from the German
1971 Max Hayward, Hope Against Hope by Nadezhda Mandelstam (Atheneum), translated from the Russian
1970 Sidney Alexander, The History of Italy by Francesco Guicciardini (Macmillan), translated from the Italian
1969 W. S. Merwin, Selected Translations 1948-1968 (Atheneum), translated from various languages
1968 Vladimir Markov & Merrill Sparks, editors Modern Russian Poetry (Bobbs–Merrill), translated from the Russian
1967 Harriet de Onis, Sagarana by J. Guimaraes Rosa (Knopf), translated from the Portuguese
1966 Geoffrey Skelton & Adrian Mitchell, Marat\Sade by Peter Weiss (Atheneum), translated from the German
1965 Joseph Barnes, The Story of a Life by Konstantin Paustovsky (Pantheon), translated from the Russian
1964 Ralph Manheim, The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass (Pantheon), translated from the German
1963 Archibald Colquhoun, The Viceroys by Federico de Roberto (Harcourt Brace), translated from the Italian
Who is Eligible:
- Eligible titles must be original book-length literary prose translations published between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, by a U.S. trade publisher.
- Translators and authors may be of any nationality. U.S. residency or citizenship is not required.
- Eligible titles are of a literary character.
- Books may have no more than two translators.
- If you submit a book for this award, you may not submit it for any additional PEN America Literary Awards, with the exception of the PEN Open Book Award. Please note that the PEN/Faulkner Award is not considered a PEN America Literary Award.
- Poetry, trade, technical, or academic writing and anthologies with more than one original author.
- Self-published books.
- Reprints or retranslations, unless the work can be said to provide a significant revision of the original translation.
- Books with more than two translators.
- Translations-in-progress are not accepted; to submit a translation-in-progress, please see the PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants.
Submissions for the 2021 awards will be accepted from June 15, 2020 through August 15, 2020.
- PEN America will only accept submissions from publishers or literary agents. Authors may not submit their own book for this award.
- On the submissions page, please select the award you are submitting to.
- Please submit verified email addresses on the submission form. Your order cannot be processed without an email address, and this information will be used to later contact you regarding your submission.
- Upload a PDF file of the galley or final manuscript on the book submissions page. Due to health concerns surrounding COVID-19, 2021 book award submissions will only be read digitally as PDF files. Each book file will be kept confidentially between the PEN America Literary Awards team and the applicable Awards judges. Please note that if a book is longlisted, PEN America may request a physical copy be sent to the judging panel.
- Upload a high-resolution book jacket photo. This may be used later if the book is longlisted, a finalist, or a winner.
- Please download the declaration of eligibility. Complete all fields and have the editor or publisher sign to confirm the book’s eligibility. Please upload this document along with the rest of your application on the submissions page.
- Each submission is $85*. Please note that due to health concerns surrounding COVID-19, we are asking that all submissions payments be made via credit card. Submission fees are not refundable.
- Once the submitted book is received and reviewed for eligibility by PEN America, it will be passed along to the judges. Please add [email protected] to your address book, as it will be the main point of contact from PEN America.
*Submission fees may be waived for publishers whose annual net sales are less than $2 million. In order to have your dues waived, please have a company official write a letter on company letterhead stating that your press’s annual net sales are less than $2 million. Please send this letter as an attachment (.doc or .pdf) to [email protected]. Once received, you will be provided with a coupon code to use at checkout in order to have your submission fees waived. One fee waiver may be used for all 2021 PEN America Awards; you do not need to submit a separate fee waiver for each award.