Tahar Ben Jelloun’s ‘About My Mother’ Wins 2016 PEN Promotes Award

Four books — a French graphic novel that tells a refugee’s story; a “costumbrismo” novel by Galician author Cristina Sánchez-Andrade; a collection of political essays by Mexican journalists and activists; and the latest book by Prix Goncourt-winner Tahar Ben Jelloun — have won 2016 PEN Promotes awards:

WINNER_PEN_AWARD_20x20mm-150x150Ben Jelloun’s book, translated from French by Ros Schwartz and Lulu Norman, and set to be published by Saqi this July, is, in PEN’s words, “an evocative tribute to his mother and his homeland of Morocco.”

According to PEN, this marks the end of an era:

This is the final round of the PEN Promotes awards scheme in its current form, supported by Bloomberg. The PEN Promotes award, which was the cornerstone of Writers in Translation when the programme was first established in 2005, has supported 95 books in ten years, including prize-winning novels such as Hassan Blasim’s The Iraqi Christ, Jenny Erpenbeck’s The End of Daysand Fabio Geda’s In the Sea There Are Crocodiles as well as modern classics such as Alaa Al-Aswany’s The Yacoubian Building and Chasing the King of Hearts by legendary Polish writer Hanna Krall. The grant will now be redeveloped in consultation with publishers, venues and retailers. Promotion support from English PEN will return in a new form in 2017.

However, English PEN reassures that their “other major translation grant, PEN Translates, supported by Arts Council England, continues unchanged and is currently open for submissions.”

This year’s PEN Promotes winners:

  • About My Mother by Tahar Ben Jelloun, translated from French by Ros Schwartz and Lulu Norman. Published by Saqi Books. July 2016
  • Alpha: Abidjan–Gare du Nord by Bessora and Barroux, translated from French by Sarah Ardizzone. Published by Barrington Stoke. August 2016
  • The Sorrows of Mexico by Lydia Cacho et al, translated from Spanish by various translators. Published by MacLehose Press. August 2016
  • The Winterlings by Cristina Sánchez-Andrade, translated from Spanish by Samuel Rutter. Published by Scribe UK. August 2016