The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is delighted to announce that The Lake by Bianca Bellová, translated from Czech into English by Alex Zucker and published by Parthian Books, is the winner of the EBRD Literature Prize 2023.
The winning work of translated literary fiction, originally published in the Czech Republic, was chosen by an independent panel of judges composed of Toby Lichtig (Chair), Maya Jaggi, Arkady Ostrovsky and Natasha Randall.
Both author and translator were congratulated in person by EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso at an awards ceremony at the Bank’s headquarters in London. The €20,000 prize will be split equally between the author and translator.
Author Bianca Bellová said: “I am totally overwhelmed by this international acknowledgement. It means so much. The judges are all prominent critics, reviewers and readers so receiving such acknowledgement from them is really something.”
Translator Alex Zucker said: “What makes The Lake important is its capturing of several very real – not dystopian, as the author has pointed out – phenomena that plague our current world: climate catastrophe, the devaluation of physical labour, human beings’ disconnect from other animals and the natural world, gender-based violence, child abuse, intergenerational trauma...”
Toby Lichtig, who is ending his term as chair of judges, said: “It’s been an enormous honour to helm the EBRD Literature Prize for the past three years – and I’m delighted to finish my term by celebrating this astonishing novel. The Lake is a bewitching, beguiling, terrifying and shocking portal into a world gone wrong, a realm in which tenderness and courage come up against brutality and indifference, in which fellow-feeling and communality are undercut by self-interest and folly – and in which small gestures nonetheless keep the flame of hope alive. It is utterly propulsive, immersive and unique, and deserves to become a European classic, to be read by many generations to come.”
The two runners-up and their translators will each receive a prize of €4,000: Mister N by Najwa Barakat, first published in Lebanon, translated from Arabic by Luke Leafgren and published by And Other Stories, and The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk, first published in Poland, translated from Polish by Jennifer Croft and published by Fitzcarraldo Editions.
Now in its sixth year, this unique annual prize is awarded by the EBRD to authors from countries where the Bank operates and their English-language translators.
The Prize acknowledges and promotes cultural diversity and the abundance of literary expression in countries from central and eastern Europe to Central Asia, the Western Balkans and the southern and eastern Mediterranean. It also celebrates the important role that translators play in bridging different cultures.
The Prize has already introduced English-language readers to a wide range of literature from countries such as Albania, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Greece, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Morocco, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Türkiye, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
The EBRD Literature Prize is part of the Bank’s Community Initiative, which engages the institution and its staff in philanthropic, social and cultural activities in the regions where the EBRD operates.
Submissions for the EBRD Literature Prize 2024 will open in the autumn.