PEN Translates Award for debut novel by Hassan Blasim

Books from sixteen countries and eleven languages make up the latest round of PEN Translates award winners. They include fiction, non-fiction, poetry, short stories and children’s literature and – for the first time – translations from the Burmese, Vietnamese and Romanian.

We are delighted that God 99, by award-winning Iraqi author Hassan Blasim is amongst the recipients this time. God 99 will be translated from the Arabic to English by Jonathan Wright. Hassan's two collections of short stories in English, The Madman of Freedom Square (2010) and the IFFP-winning The Iraqi Christ (2014) were published by Comma, and were published in a combined selection of stories titled The Corpse Exhibition by Penguin in North America. God 99 will be published in 2020 by Comma.

Read the full list of recipients on the PEN website here.

Will Forrester, Translation and International Manager, English PEN, said:

These awards go to seventeen books of outstanding merit and courage. In a moment where the movement of art and ideas across borders is being challenged, translation is a vital corrective. We are thrilled that PEN Translates continues to contribute to literary accessibility and internationalism, and to ensure translators are paid properly for their work. We’re excited that the UK public will get to read these important books.

Sarah Ardizzone, Co-chair of the English PEN Writers in Translation Committee, said:

The depth of field for these PEN Translates awards is breathtaking – from a hard-hitting memoir by a young Rohingya man, to a poignant children’s illustrated work from Slovenia, via a zany exposé of colonised language in a Belarusian novel. We’re proud to be supporting outstanding literary fiction from across Latin America, as well as China, Vietnam, Palestine, Iraq and Romania; together with poetry from Haiti, Cuba and Romania, and short story collections from Malaysia and Myanmar. Dynamic and innovative models for international publishing are especially to be saluted, in a list that is proactively both global and local.

Books are selected for PEN Translates awards on the basis of outstanding literary quality, strength of the publishing project, and contribution to literary diversity in the UK. The award-winning books are featured on the English PEN World Bookshelf website, in partnership with Foyles.