Najwa Barakat’s ‘Mister N’ Shortlisted for 2023 EBRD Literature Prize

MARCH 16, 2023 — Today, organizers announced the ten-book shortlist of translated literature for the 2023 EBRD Literature Prize.

This six-year-old literary prize, established by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, awards authors from countries where the EBRD operates, as well as their English translators. The EBRD countries range from “central and eastern Europe to Central Asia, the Western Balkans and the southern and eastern Mediterranean.”

This year’s shortlist — chosen by judges Toby Lichtig, Maya Jaggi, Arkady Ostrovsky and Natasha Randall — includes one title from Lebanon, Najwa Bakarat’s Mr. N, translated by Luke Leafgren and published by And Other Stories.

In a prepared statement, Lichtig said:

“My fellow judges and I are delighted with this year’s shortlist, which has taken us from 18th-century Poland and communist Bratislava to contemporary Beirut and Ukraine, via a dystopian fishing village at the end of the world. We became swept up in not one but two messianic cults, were led through the corridors of medical facilities masquerading as hotels (and time capsules), and disembarked on an imaginary eastern Mediterranean island in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire. The themes include illness and war, recovery and revolution, old age and new beginnings, the clash of history and friction of domestic dramas, the jolt of political awakening and personal reckoning. This is a list to startle, delight, bewilder, hearten, amuse and entertain.”

The full shortlist:

  • Mister N by Najwa Barakat, translated from the Arabic by Luke Leafgren (And Other Stories). Country: Lebanon 
  • The Lake by Bianca Bellová, translated from the Czech by Alex Zucker (Parthian Books). Country: Czech Republic 
  • Mothers and Truckers by Ivana Dobrakovová, translated from the Slovakian by Julia and Peter Sherwood (Jantar Publishing). Country: Slovak Republic 
  • Invisible Woman and Other Stories by Slavenka Drakulić, translated from the Croatian by Christina Pribichevich Zorić with Jacob Agee (Fraktura). Country: Croatia 
  • Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov, translated from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel. Country: Bulgaria 
  • According to Her by Maciej Hen, translated from the Polish by Anna Blasiak (Holland House Books). Country: Poland 
  • Body Kintsugi by Senka Marić, translated from the Bosnian by Celia Hawkesworth (Peirene). Country: Bosnia and Herzegovina  
  • Nights of Plague by Orhan Pamuk, translated from the Turkish by Ekin Oklap (Faber). Country: Türkiye 
  • Mondegreen by Volodymyr Rafeyenko, translated from the Ukrainian by Mark Andryczyk (HURI Books). Country: Ukraine 
  • The Books of Jacob by Olga Tocarczuk, translated from the Polish by Jennifer Croft (Fitzcarraldo Editions). Country: Poland 

The winning author and two runners-up, along with their translators, is set to be announced on June 15 at an award ceremony to be held at the EBRD’s headquarters in London.