The 2014 PEN International/New Voices Award was awarded to Marina Babanskaya for her short story ‘The Frogs’ Chorus’
Novelist Andrei Kurkov, vice president of Ukrainian PEN, presented the prize of $1000USD to Babanskaya at the 80th PEN International Congress in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
‘She records and selects with her eyes and her ears in exactly the way that I feel is most important: and it is not just the smell of the sagebrush steppe, it is no less than the strong smell of history which walks these dusty expanses… Marina has found her own geography – striving with all her soul towards the south, which she writes about distinctly and skilfully. As Sappho said three thousand years ago, ‘Some say cavalry and others claim infantry or a fleet of long oars is the supreme sight on the black earth…’ The soul of this writer has its own direction: Zadoniye, the south…not in the vast and dimensionless way in which we look down from an aeroplane or at a map, but dealing with a piece of land of a precise size, with which the human heart can fall in love. I accept her invitation, and together with her I am ready to fall in love with Zadoniye…’ – Lyudmila Ulitskaya, Chair of Russian PEN’s New Voices jury 2014.
Babanskaya, born in 1986 in the Rostov region in southern Russia, holds a BA in Journalism from the Institute of Journalism and Creative Writing and a degree in Law. She is currently studying for an MA in Folklore and Mythology at the Russian State University for the Humanities and lives in Moscow. She was nominated by St Petersburg PEN Chapter.
Read ‘The Frogs’ Chorus’ by Marina Babanskaya (St Petersburg PEN Chapter). Translated by Arch Tait.
Congratulations to all of the shortlisted writers; the longlisted writers Kasim Bazil and Amalia Cernat and thank you to the jury, the translators, and all candidates and PEN Centres who have participated this year.
The PEN International/New Voices Award encourages new writing in the countries in which we operate, and provides a much needed space for young and unpublished writers to promote their work. The award actively encourages entries from diverse linguistic regions and communities.
Before PEN International was established in 1921 its founder, C. A. Dawson Scott, set up the Tomorrow Club as a space for aspiring writers to network with established authors; in 1928 Herman Ould, International Secretary, felt strongly that it was important for PEN to maintain focus on helping emerging writers, and so established the first ‘Young PEN’ chapter.
The PEN International/New Voices Award builds on these ideas, simultaneously reconnecting with our past and moving into the future. The award is open to unpublished writers aged 18-30. The young writers must be nominated by their local PEN Centre: PEN International cannot receive entries directly from candidates.
The first PEN International/New Voices Award was given on September 11 2013 to Masande Ntshanga for his short story ‘Space’. Ntshanga had been nominated by South African PEN. Writer and jury member Alain Mabanckou (below) presented the prize in a ceremony at the Reykjavík International Literary Festival, during the 79th PEN International Congress in Iceland.
2014 Winner: Marina Babanskaya (St Petersburg PEN Chapter)
2014 Runners-up: Kasim Bazil (Central Asian PEN), Amalia Cernat (Romanian PEN)
2013 Winner: Masande Ntshanga (South African PEN)
2013 Runners-up: José Pablo Salas (PEN Mexico), Claire Battershill (PEN Canada)
Jury members 2013: Hephzibah Anderson, Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, Carole Blake, Alain Mabanckou, Sjón, Luisa Valenzuela
PEN International/New Voices Award jury 2014
Xi Chuan is a Chinese poet, essayist and translator. Born in 1963, previously a visiting adjunct professor at New York University (2007), and an Orion visiting artist at University of Victoria, Canada (2009), he is currently professor of Chinese literature at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. Xi Chuan has published six collections of poems, including Personal Preferences (2008) and A Dream’s Worth (2013), two books of essays and translations of Ezra Pound, Jorge Luis Borges, Czeslaw Milosz, Gary Snyder and others. He was one of the top ten winners of the 1999 Weimar International Essay Prize Contest in Germany. His book of poems in English translation Notes on the Mosquito: Xi Chuan /Selected Poems (tr. Lucas Klein) published by New Directions, New York, 2012 was awarded ALTA’s 2013 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize and was shortlisted for American 2013 Best Translated Book Award.
Kiran Desai is the author of two novels, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard which won the Betty Trask Prize in 1998, and The Inheritance of Loss, which won the Man Booker in 2006. It was also awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award and was translated into over 40 languages. Her essays have appeared in various publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Guardian, Best American Travel Writing (ed. Simon Winchester) and Aids Sutra: Untold Stories from India, which was a project of the Gates Foundation.
Photo: Annette Hornischer
Alberto Manguel is a Canadian novelist, essayist and critic, born in Argentina and living in France. He is the author of A History of Reading (1996), A Reading Diary (2004) and The Library at Night (2008). He has received many prizes, was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and honorary doctorates from the universities of Liège, in Belgium and Anglia Ruskin in Cambridge, UK. He is an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
Photo: Bjarne Riesto
Alexandre Postel was born in 1982 in Paris. Except for a year at Cambridge University, he has always lived in Paris, where he currently teaches literature. His first novel, A Self-effacing Man, was published in January 2013 by Gallimard. It was awarded the Goncourt Prize for First Novel. Translation rights have so far been sold in Spain and Italy.
Kamila Shamsie‘s novels include Burnt Shadows which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction and translated into more than 20 languages. Her sixth novel, A God In Every Stone, will be published in Spring 2014. In 2013 she was on Granta’s list of Best of Young British Novelists. She grew up in Karachi and now lives in London.
Photo: Pankaj Mishra
For information about the award, please contact James Tennant, PEN International’s Literary Manager: james.tennant[@]pen-international.org
PEN International promotes literature and freedom of expression and is governed by the PEN Charter and the principles it embodies: unhampered transmission of thought within each nation and between all nations. Founded in 1921, PEN International connects an international community of writers from its Secretariat in London. It is a forum where writers meet freely to discuss their work; it is also a voice speaking out for writers silenced in their own countries. Through Centres in over 100 countries, PEN operates on five continents.
PEN International is a non-political organisation which holds Special Consultative Status at the UN and Associate Status at UNESCO. International PEN is a registered charity in England and Wales with registration number 1117088.