The first global prize for translations from South Asian languages has been announced. The New York-based technology venture capital firm Armory Square Ventures has launched the inaugural edition of the Armory Square Prize for South Asian Literature in Translation.
The award will be given to the English translation of a book written by a South Asian author – from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Maldives or the diasporas of these countries – in a language other than English. This award will be in the form of publication by the American publisher Open Letter Books in autumn of 2024.
Applications are open, and will be accepted here till December 31, 2022. The shortlist will be announced in March 2023. Excerpts from the shortlisted works will be published and featured by the online literary publication Words Without Borders, and the final winner will be announced in April 2023. Applicants are not expected to submit full translations but an excerpt of between 3,000 and 5,000 words, along with other details.
Translations of the literatures of South Asia have been slow to attract attention in the Anglophile publishing markets of the US and the UK, although Geetanjali Shree’s 2022 International Booker Prize winning novel Tomb of Sand, translated from the Hindi Ret Samadhi by Daisy Rockwell, has drawn the attention of publishers and readers in the West recently. Of almost 7,600 books published in translation in the US over the past decade, only 64, or fewer than 1%, originated from a South Asian language, even though these languages are spoken by one-fifth of the world’s population.
“Our hope is the prize will awaken a new space for literary creativity and industry,” said Pia Sawhney, Partner and Co-Founder of Armory Square Ventures and also a jury member. The jury will be chaired by translator and academic Jason Grunebaum, and comprises translators Shahnaz Habib, Anton Hur, Daisy Rockwell, Jeffrey Zuckerman, and Arunava Sinha, besides Sawhney.
Disclosure: Arunava Sinha is the editor of the Books & Idea section of Scroll.in.