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The Lake shortlisted for eminent Literature Prize

#womenintranslation, Alex Zucker, Award Winner, Bianca Bellova, Czech Literature, EBRD literature Prize 2023, The Lake, Translations -

The Lake shortlisted for eminent Literature Prize

The Lake - March 28, 2023

When we recently discovered that The Lake, authored by Bianca Bellová and translated by Alex Zucker, had been shortlisted for the EBRD Literature Prize, we could not have been more delighted. As a compelling piece of Czech literature in English translation, The Lake is a natural contender for this award, which aims to illustrate the importance of literary translation and introduce a variety of voices to an English-speaking global audience.

Bianca and Alex are no strangers to awards and nominations, with both author and translator having varying accolades between them. The Lake also previously won the Magnesia Litera Book of the Year Award and the European Union Prize for Literature in 2017. However, they both agree that being nominated for the EBRD Literature Prize is a highlight in their careers.

Bianca Bellová and Alex Zucker discussing The Lake with Ian Willoughby at the Prague launch.

(Credit: Anglo-American University Library, Prague. Taken Oct. 12, 2022, at the Prague launch of The Lake, moderated by Ian Willoughby, Radio Prague International. Left to right: Alex Zucker, Bianca Bellová, and Ian Willoughby.)


“The nomination is an award in itself,” says Bianca. “It is one thing to win a national contest, but to be in the same game as Nobel Prize winners and such prominent names is quite a different league altogether.”

Alex is similarly enthusiastic.

Alex says, “To win the EBRD Literature Prize would be the biggest award of my career, monetarily and emotionally. It’s already been very exciting just to be named on the shortlist, given the other renowned authors and translators selected. To win would feel fantastic! I especially hope it would help the book find its way to more readers.

To me, that’s what prizes are mostly about.”

With both author and translator now digesting the announcement of the shortlist, Bianca tells of the moment she discovered the good news.

Bianca says, “I was on a train from an event in the Museum of Modern Art in the city of Olomouc; either it was too much good food there or some bug, but I was not feeling well at all. I was checking my spam box, which I learnt to do after accidentally finding the announcement about being shortlisted for the EU Prize for Literature there a couple of years earlier. I found a notification from Parthian who gave me the good news. I didn’t even know they'd nominated me. To be honest, my eyes started watering and I was instantly feeling much better.”

We are pleased that Bianca instantly felt better and that being shortlisted for this prize was validation for her.

Bianca says, “I would say it is a kind of seal of approval that you are not completely misled in your creative struggle. Firstly, you have to have your book translated into English, which in itself is nothing short of a miracle, and then to be acknowledged by being shortlisted. I just hope that it helps my other books find their way into the hearts of readers in other languages to enjoy, for they are just as good as The Lake, in my humble opinion.”

As the judging panel finalise their decision for this year’s prize, we ask Alex what it is that he thinks made The Lake stand out.

“I am not sure if this makes Bianca’s novel unique, but I suspect the setting. The fact that it’s by a Czech author but not set in Czechia or centred on Czech characters is a major factor. Apart from that, the writing is very evocative, and there is a relentless drive to the story that I think makes it hard to put down, despite its bleakness. Literature, in the hands of a skilful writer, which Bianca Bellová is, can help us notice and absorb things about the world we turn away from when presented to us as news, whether textual or visual. The Lake does this. And it’s a great read.”

Image of Bianca Bellová and Alex Zucker at the Prague launch of The Lake

(Credit: Anglo-American University Library, Prague. Taken Oct. 12, 2022, at the Prague launch of The Lake, moderated by Ian Willoughby, Radio Prague International. Left to right: Alex Zucker, Bianca Bellová, and Ian Willoughby.)

To see for yourself what a great read it is, you can purchase The Lake here.

And you can read the EBRD’s announcement here.


We will have to wait until the end of April for the announcement of the three finalists for the 2023 EBRD Literature Prize. However, in the meantime, we wish Bianca and Alex the very best of luck. Pob lwc!