Najwa Barakat’s ‘Mr. N’ a Finalist for 2023 EBRD Literature Prize

APRIL 27, 2023 — Najwa Barakat’s Mr. N., translated by Luke Leafgren, haas made the three-book list of finalistst for the 2023 EBRD Literature Prize.

Judges of the prize — which aims to acknowledge and promote “cultural diversity and the abundance of literary expression in countries from central and eastern Europe to Central Asia, the Western Balkans and the southern and eastern Mediterranean — selected books from Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Lebanon.

The three finalists for the prize, which is set to announce its winner June 15, are:

  • Mister N by Najwa Barakat, translated from Arabic by Luke Leafgren (And Other Stories). Country: Lebanon 

  • The Lake by Bianca Bellová, translated from Czech by Alex Zucker (Parthian Books).  
    Country: Czech Republic 

  • The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk, translated from Polish by Jennifer Croft (Fitzcarraldo Editions). Country: Poland 

The €20,000 prize is now in its seventh year. This year’s judging committee is chaired by Toby Lichtig, who is joined by Maya Jaggi, Arkady Ostrovsky and Natasha Randall.

In a prepared statement, Lichtig said:

My fellow judges and I would like to congratulate the finalists for their magnificent contributions to contemporary literature. We’d also like to offer thanks for such extraordinary, powerful and memorable reading experiences. Whittling our shortlist down was tough, as it always is, but these are three truly outstanding novels, with overlapping themes – devotion and rebellion, timelessness and historical contingency, free will and political power – and utterly distinct identities. Each would be a worthy winner in its own right. Choosing that winner is an even bigger challenge.

The two runners-up will also receive a prize of €4,000. 

Read an excerpt of Mr. N at LitHub.