How to apply for and win the Read Russia English translation prize

Read Russia medallion

Read Russia medallion

Anatoly Stepanenko
New season launches call for translators and publishers of Russian literature

What is the prize?

Read Russia Prize is the only award that recognizes newly published translations of Russian literature into foreign languages. It was founded in 2011 by Russia’s Institute of Translation to popularize Russian literature abroad and is supported by the Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communication and the Boris N. Yeltsin Presidential Center.

The prize is awarded every two years for works of Russian literature published in new English translations in any of the following categories:

  • 19th century fiction written between 1800 and 1900;
  • 20th century fiction written between 1900 and 1990;
  • contemporary fiction written after 1990;
  • poetry (both classic and contemporary);
  • drama.

How big is the award?

Read Russia presents prizewinners with a cash award of up to $10,000, divided at the discretion of the prize jury between the original English-language publishing house and the translator(s) of the work.

How can you apply?

All new English-language translations of Russian literature published in English between January 2016 and June 2017 are eligible for submission. 

A digital copy of each of the English and the original Russian works should be sent to prizes@readrussia.org by October 31, 2017.

In addition, three print copies of the nominated English-language work and one print copy of the original Russian-language text should be sent to the Read Russia Prize address at:

Read Russia
166 East 61 Street, Suite 11J
New York, NY 10065
Attn: Read Russia Prize Jury

When will the winners be announced?

The winners of each category will be awarded during Moscow’s biannual World Congress of Literary Translators organized by the Institute of Translation. The finalists of the English translation prize are automatically included in the long list of the global Read Russia Prize that chooses translator from all over the world.

How do you become a literary translator?

Last year's winner of the global Read Russia Prize Lisa Hayden has written an informative and useful blog on how to become a literary translator. Her key advice is:

  • read a lot of new Russian literature,
  • think about why a publisher should agree to issue the book you are pitching,
  • don't forget you are a writer,
  • join a book club or community,
  • love what you do.

Who are the past winners?

Previous winners have included Oliver Ready, for his translation of the novel Before and During by Russian author Vladimir Sharov, and Joanna Turnbull and Nikolai Formozov for their translation of Autobiography of a Corpse, a collection of tales from Russian writer Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky. 

English translators traditionally win the global prize: Lisa Hayden (U.S.) was awarded for her translation of Eugene Vodolazkin's novel Laurus in the category "Contemporary literature (post-1990)".

American Marian Schwartz got the prize for her translation of Leonid Yuzefovich’s novel Harlequin’s Costume, again in the contemporary literature category.

John Elsworth from the UK for his translation of Andrei Bely's Petersburg in the category of 20th Century Russian literature.

For more information visit readrussia.org.

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