The Orphanage wins the 2022 EBRD Literature Prize

  • 20,000 prizes equally divided between the writer and the translator

  • The prize recognizes the best work of literary fiction from the EBRD regions translated into English

The orphanage, a novel written by Serhiy Zhadan and translated from Ukrainian by Reilly Costigan-Humes and Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler, won the 2022 EBRD Literature Prize.

The €20,000 prize will be shared between the author and the translator.

This is now the fifth year of the EBRD Literature Prize, which celebrates the best of translated literature in nearly 40 countries where the Bank invests: from Central and Eastern Europe to Central Asia, the Western Balkans and south and east of the Mediterranean.

The €20,000 prize is awarded to the best work of literary fiction originally written in a language of one of these countries, which has been translated into English and published by a British or European publisher.

The international prize was created in 2017 by the EBRD, in cooperation with the British Council. This is one of the few international literary prizes that rewards both the author and the translator.

The orphanage (published by Yale University Press) is written by renowned Ukrainian novelist and poet Serhiy Zhadan. Set in contemporary eastern Ukraine, the book is a raw and gripping story of a civilian’s desperate journey through conflict zones to return home.

Toby Lichtig, chairman of the independent jury, said: “A teacher crosses war-torn Donbass into Ukraine to pick up his nephew from a boarding school. The couple then return home together. Against the simplicity of this story is Serhiy Zhadan’s extraordinary, explosive, tender, angry and poetic novel about a country torn apart by conflict, and the absurdities, banalities, horrors and moments of human connection that war brings. The orphanage was timely when it first appeared in Ukrainian in 2017, it was timely when it first appeared in Reilly Costigan-Humes and Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler’s excellent translation last year, and it is even more ominously timely now.

Announcing the winner of this year’s literature prize at a virtual awards ceremony today, EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso said: “With the world’s attention on many countries our EBRD’s operations, for devastating reasons, the EBRD Literature Prize reminds us of the power of literature to convey urgent experiences, bridge cultural divides and unite us in our common humanity.

Serhiy Zhadan He is widely regarded as one of Ukraine’s most important contemporary writers. In March 2022, the Polish Academy of Sciences nominated Zhadan for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Zhadan is the author of five novels, more than a dozen collections of poetry, as well as numerous plays, short stories and political essays. His work has been translated into 17 languages ​​and he has won more than a dozen literary prizes. For example, his novel Voroshylovhrad (2010) won the Jan Michalski Prize for Literature in Switzerland, the Ukrainian BBC “Book of the Decade” Prize and the Brücke Berlin Prize, and his book Mesopotamia (2014) won the Angelus Prize for Central European Literature in 2015. In addition to being a major literary figure, Zhadan is the leader and lyricist of the ska-punk band Zhadan and the Dogs. He has remained in Kharkiv since the start of the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, undertaking humanitarian work and doing interviews in the city.

Reilly Costigan-Humes and Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler are a team of literary translators who work with both Russian and Ukrainian, best known for their interpretations of novels by Ukrainian author Serhiy Zhadan, including Voroshilovgrad (Deep Vellum Publishing) and Mesopotamia (Yale University Press). Wheeler is also a poet and editor at Two chairsa new online poetry journal.

The two finalist titles for the 2022 EBRD Literature Prize received €8,000, equally divided between writer and translator. These were Katerina’s book by Auguste Corteau, translated from the Greek by Claire Papamichail (Parthian books); and boat number five by Monika Kompaníková, translated from Slovak by Janet Livingstone (Seagull Books).

Many of the finalist writers and translators were present at the EBRD’s virtual ceremony on June 13, where fellow judges Toby Lichtig and Boris Drayluk discussed the winning book and the art of literary translation.

The independent jury for this year’s EBRD Prize for Literature chose the three finalists from 10 shortlisted titles, announced on March 23, 2022.

About the EBRD Literature Prize

The EBRD Literature Prize is a project of the Bank’s Community Initiative, which provides a framework for staff and institutional engagement in philanthropic, social and cultural activities in the regions where the Bank operates.

The 2022 edition was awarded to the best work of literary fiction translated from the original language into English and first published by a publisher based in the UK or Europe between November 15, 2020 and December 31, 2021 .

See all information about the EBRD Literature Prize

Past winners of the EBRD Literature Prize

The first EBRD Literature Prize was won in April 2018 by Turkish author Burhan Sönmez and his translator Ümit Hussein for the novel Istanbul, Istanbul (Saqi Books). The second literature prize was won by Uzbek writer Hamid Ismailov and translator Donald Rayfield (with John Farndon) for Devils Dance (Tilted Axis Press) — the first novel translated from Uzbek into English. The third literature prize was won in May 2020 by Lithuanian author Grigory Kanovich and his Yisraeli translator Elliot Cohen for the novel Devilspel (Black Press). The fourth literature prize was won in June 2021 by Polish author Szczepan Twardoch and his translator Sean Gaspar Bye for the novel The King of Warsaw (Crossing the Amazon).

About the Judges

Toby Lichtig is Chairman of the Jury for the 2022 EBRD Literature Prize. Toby is the Fiction and Politics Editor of the Times Literary Supplement (TLS). He is also a freelance editor and writer, and writes for a range of publications, including the the wall street journal and the Guardian. Toby has appeared as a guest critic on various TV and radio programmes, regularly interviews writers at the Hay Literary Festival and is also a freelance documentary producer. He was president of the jury for the 2018 JQ-Wingate Prize and member of the jury for the 2019 European Prize for Literature. He was president of the jury for the 2021 edition of the EBRD Literature Prize.Twitter: @TobyLichtig

Alex Clark is a critic, journalist and host. Co-host of Graham Norton’s Book Club, she is also a regular on Radio 4 and writes on a wide range of subjects for the Guardianthe Observerthe irish time and the TLS. She is one of the patrons of the Cambridge Literary Festival and has judged numerous literary prizes, including the Booker Prize. She is an experienced live events chair and lives in Kilkenny, Ireland.

Twitter: @AlexClark3

Boris Drayluk is a literary translator, poet and editor of the Book review in Los Angeles. His work has appeared in the TLSthe New York Book Reviewthe New Yorker, London book reviewthe Guardianand other journals.

He is the author of Western Detective Fiction Heads East: The Russian Pinkerton Craze 1907-1934; translator of several volumes from Russian, including works by Isaac Babel, Andrey Kurkov, Maxim Osipov and Mikhail Zoshchenko; editor of 1917: Stories and Poems of the Russian Revolution; and co-editor of The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry (2015).

Boris was awarded first prize in the 2011 Compass Translation Award competition and in 2020 won the inaugural Kukula Award for Excellence in Non-Fiction Book Review from the Washington Monthly. His collection My Hollywood and Other Poems was published by Paul Dry Books in April 2022.

Twitter: @BorisDrayluk

Catherine Murphy is a literary and academic critic who reviews Czech literature for TLSand regularly contributes, both as a critic and essayist, to Apollo: the international art magazine. She is a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oriel College and an Associate Professor in the Faculty of English at the University of Oxford. His diverse interests include literature, theology and philosophy in the seventeenth century; Central European literature; the literary essay; and painting of still lifes. Kathryn is co-editor of On essays: Montaigne in the present (Oxford, 2020) and curator of the Bodleian exhibition Melancholy: a new anatomy. His book Robert Burton: a vital melancholy will be published by Reaktion in 2022.

Twitter: @manymanypiles

About the EBRD

The EBRD was created in 1991 after the fall of the Berlin Wall to meet the challenge of an extraordinary moment in European history: the collapse of communism. It is a multilateral bank with nearly 70 shareholders that promotes private sector development and entrepreneurial initiatives in 38 countries and economies on three continents.

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