European Union Prize for Literature makes its debut

The first tranche of prize-winning authors was announced yesterday for the new EU Prize for Literature.  This year’s awards have been presented to 12 authors from Austria, Croatia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Sweden.

Another round will take place in 2010, with authors selected from Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Finland, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia and Spain.

And – finally – in 2011 the eleven remaining countries – Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Malta, Serbia, The Netherlands, Turkey and United Kingdom.

Politics are obviously at play here as well as culture with all the ‘official’ and ‘potential’ candidate countries being included – except for Iceland, which hasn’t quite got there yet although it has now voted to apply for EU membership.

But leaving politics out for the moment, I do hope that this prize will filter its way through to promoting translation between the various languages.

Apparently, money is available for translation since the Prize is funded by the Culture Programme of the European Union. The programme supports trans-national cultural cooperation projects involving operators from a minimum of three different countries participating in the programme. It also provides specific support for the translation of literary works.

Henning Mankell, the newly appointed Ambassador for the Prize, is himself a best-selling author and brings a global not only Eurocentric view to the prize that will certainly raise its profile. His work has been translated into 41 languages and more than 30 million copies of his novels have been sold worldwide.

I immediately looked to see which Italian author has won: it is Daniele Del Giudice for his book Orizzonte Mobile published by Giulio Einaudi in 2009.  No English translation yet exists – so watch this space!

del giudice

Joseph Farrell translated one of Del Giudice’s earlier books, Take-Off (original title Staccando l’ombra da terra) for Harcourt and Brace in 2006.

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