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Inaugural PEN Presents award six translators and four South Asian languages

The proposals for four novels, one collection of short stories, and one memoir win the awards.

November 25, 2022 / 06:20 PM IST
(Left to right; top to bottom): Umesh Solanki and Gopika Jadeja; Chandan Pandey and Kartikeya Jain; Banu Mushtaq and Deepa Bhasthi; Nikhil Pandhi and Anita Bharti; V Ramaswamy and Adhir Biswas; Shabnam Nadiya and Wasi Ahmed.

(Left to right; top to bottom): Umesh Solanki and Gopika Jadeja; Chandan Pandey and Kartikeya Jain; Banu Mushtaq and Deepa Bhasthi; Nikhil Pandhi and Anita Bharti; V Ramaswamy and Adhir Biswas; Shabnam Nadiya and Wasi Ahmed.


The inaugural PEN Presents, a new award for translation samples, has selected six translators who represent four South Asian languages. The first issue of PEN Presents is a partnership between English PEN and the British Council.

This year’s shortlist of 12 included translators of books from Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Nepali, and Tamil across genres such as novels, short stories, and a memoir. It also featured five works by Dalit authors.

The winning translators and authors are:

  • Deepa Bhasthi, for a translation from the Kannada of Banu Mushtaq’s Haseena and Other Stories.

  • Gopika Jadeja, for a translation from the Gujarati of Umesh Solanki’s Transformations.

  • Kartikeya Jain, for a translation from Hindi of Chandan Pandey’s Songs of Glory.

  • Shabnam Nadiya, for a translation from the Bengali of Wasi Ahmed’s The Ice Machine.

  • Nikhil Pandhi, for a translation from the Hindi of Anita Bharti’s Chronicle of the Quota Woman and Other Stories.

  • V Ramaswamy, for a translation from the Bengali of Adhir Biswas’s Last Boy: An Untouchable Boy’s Classroom.

Preti Taneja, writer and co-chair of English PEN’s Translation Advisory Group, said that the samples “testify to the variety and quality of literature across India and the diaspora, and to the talent of the writers and translators creating it.”

Will Forrester, translation and international manager at English PEN, had said when the shortlist was announced earlier this year that it "represents a remarkable breadth of outstanding Indian literature not yet published in English translation...I'm particularly thrilled by the number and quality of works by Dalit writers represented."

PEN Presents was launched following a 2021 research collaboration between English PEN and the Translating Women project, which consulted with translators, agents, publishers and literature organisations, and found a widespread desire for an initiative supporting and showcasing sample translations. The programme aims to fund literary translators’ work of creating samples, give publishers better access to titles from underrepresented languages and regions, and help diversify the translated literature landscape.

The first round of PEN Presents is a partnership between English PEN and the British Council, as part of the British Council’s India/UK Together Season which will see a vast programme of creative collaboration, education and cultural exchange including key projects focusing on building stronger connections between India and the UK’s literary and publishing sectors.

The PEN Presents programme will open for proposals of works in any language and from any region in January 2023.
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