The judges said of this year’s shortlist:
The field for the John Florio Prize this year was immensely rich, showing the breadth and depth of contemporary Italian writing, as well as the potential for rediscovery of forgotten fragments of the literary tradition. Through the outstanding work of their translators, I enjoyed reading everything from 19th-century poetry to 21st-century detective fiction, from colonial-era short stories to mafia melodrama.
Sponsored by the Italian Cultural Institute and the Society of Authors.
It is my great honor to be on the John Florio Prize shortlist for my translation of Curzio Malaparte’s unfinished, fragmentary, and astonishing The Kremlin Ball. Malaparte, a very slippery character and one of the twentieth century’s great writers about European decadence, has had a very tricky relationship with his legacy–one might even say that he was a victim of what we now call cancel culture–so I am pleased he is having the chance to bask a bit in the limelight he so adored. One of the great joys of translation for me is how collaborative it is across language and culture, space and time. In translation, I hear so many voices beyond the author’s and my own, encouraging me, teaching me, showing me the way. The process is always a rich and inspiring conversation. I think that for this reason the pride I take in my translations gets to be unfettered and with every one I want to shout from the rooftops, “Read this great book!” And when it comes to prizes and the like, I am not shy to welcome the opportunity to shout some more about how essential reading literature in translation is to being a great citizen of the world. So read these great books on the shortlist! Learn a new language! Or push yourself with the ones you already know and try translating yourself. It’s glorious.