The Eighth Life (for Brilka) by Nino Haratischvili, translated from German by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin, and published by Scribe Publications, has been announced as the 2020 winner of the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation.
Already a best-seller in numerous translations, The Eighth Life (for Brilka), first published in German in 2014 and the novelist’s third book, is an epic tale of six generations of one family as written down by the fifth of those generations, Nina Jashi, for her niece Brilka. We follow the characters from Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia, to St Petersburg, Prague, Vienna, London, and Berlin. On the way we see how the family’s history is entwined with that of their Georgian homeland.
Judge Susan Bassnett says of The Eighth Life (for Brilka): “A terrific book. At 934 pages it may look daunting at first, but as soon as you begin to read, Nino Haratischvili's story-telling skills draw you in to the multifaceted narrative. Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin have done a superb job, maintaining the lightness of narrative touch and moving between the many voices of the different generations. I loved this book”. Judge Amanda Hopkinson adds: “This is a ‘Red Century’ of family history, from the Russian Empire to the Soviet Union; circling western European capitals and returning to Tbilisi. The opening recipe for an Elysian drinking chocolate, passed on through the generations, is symbolic of temptations, excesses and secrets to come. Finely, impressively co-translated by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin, this volume is heavy to lift but becomes impossible to put down!” And judge Boyd Tonkin says: "The Eighth Life is an absolute feast of a novel: a journey across Georgia’s 20th century through several generations of the same sprawling clan. Nino Haratischvili’s story-telling has an epic, Tolstoyan scope that blends broad historical vision with a touching, intimate attention to the joys and sorrows of family life. Translators Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin do splendid justice both to the big picture, and the fine detail”.
Nino Haratischvili was born in Georgia in 1983 and moved to Hamburg in 2003. She has been writing in both German and Georgian since the age of twelve. Her debut novel Juja and her most recent novel Die Katze und der General [The Cat and the General] were nominated for the German Book Prize in 2010 and 2018 respectively. The German edition of The Eighth Life won the Anna Seghers Prize, the Lessing Prize Stipend, and the Bertolt Brecht Prize. The English translation by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin was longlisted for the 2020 International Booker Prize.
Translator Charlotte Collins received the Goethe Institut’s Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize in 2017 for Robert Seethaler’s A Whole Life, which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize and the International Dublin Literary Award. Her other translations include Seethaler’s The Tobacconist and The End of Loneliness by Benedict Wells. Translator Ruth Martin’s recent translations include Volker Weidermann’s Dreamers, Michael Köhlmeier’s novels Two Gentlemen on the Beach and Yiza, short fiction by Joseph Roth, and essays by Hannah Arendt. Both translators have recently completed a 3-year term as co-chairs of the UK’s Translators Association.
The judges have also selected one runner-up from this year’s diverse shortlist: Letters from Tove, by Finnish author, artist, and creator of the much-loved Moomins, Tove Jansson, translated from Swedish by Sarah Death and published by Sort of Books. Letters from Tove evokes 55 years of creative and emotional intensity from 1932 to 1988. Judge Amanda Hopkinson comments: “Intimate descriptions of Bohemian pre-war Helsinki alternate with trips to Paris and Athens, and long spells on North Sea islands, where Moomins dwell. An unselfconscious autobiography compiled, not in serene elderly reflection, but vividly and intensely, as it was lived. Sensitively – meticulously – translated by Sarah Death”. Judge Susan Bassnett adds: “Translating other people's letters is never easy, particularly when the letters cover so many years and were written by someone as unusual as Tove Jansson, whose style changes depending on the person to whom she is writing. Sarah Death has done justice to Tove Jansson's life and writing in this fine collection”. Judge Boyd Tonkin says: “Letters from Tove reveals the many facets of Tove Jansson as artist, writer, lover, thinker, wit and acute social observer. Sarah Death’s agile and resourceful translation captures all the fun, the excitement and the sheer resilience of a long, rich life well lived”.
The winner and the runner-up were chosen from a diverse shortlist of seven titles that included translations from Arabic, Chinese, Hungarian, Italian and Norwegian. The 2020 competition received a record 132 eligible entries, a significant increase on 2019. The prize was generously supported in 2020 by the British Comparative Literature Association and the British Centre for Literary Translation.
The fifth year of the Prize will be celebrated within the framework of Coventry City of Culture 2021.