Bernard Shaw Prize 2023 shortlist announced

Four SELTA members feature on the shortlist for the 2023 Bernard Shaw Prize.

Six translators feature on the shortlist for the 2023 Bernard Shaw Prize announced today by the Society of Authors, among which are an impressive four  SELTA members (Kira Josefsson, Alice Menzies, Alice E. Olsson, Saskia Vogel). The prize is awarded for translations into English of full-length Swedish-language works of literary merit and general interest. Having previously been triennial, this is the first time that the prize has been awarded on a biennial basis. The winning translator will receive a cash prize of £3,000, while the runner-up will receive £1,000.

This year’s judges include SELTA member Nichola Smalley, whose translation of fellow judge Amanda Svensson’s ‘A System so Magnificent it is Blinding’ (Scribe) was shortlisted for both the 2023 Booker International Prize and the 2023 Warwick Prize. They are joined on the judging panel by  the Guardian journalist and former news editor at The Bookseller Alison Flood. In the words of Svensson:

‘From the lyrical to the matter-of-fact, these translators have captured the essence of each of their authors tone, ambition, quirks and strengths with accuracy and verve. This shortlist is a testament not only to the power of great literature, but also the power of great translation.’

Smalley added:

‘It was truly a delight to put together this shortlist, and with so little discord among the judges about what made the list and why. We were looking for brilliant translations that captured the rhythm and voice of their source texts, and all the books on the shortlist stand out for doing this in one way or another. As well as novel translations that consistently upheld the atmosphere and experience of reading the Swedish equivalents, we loved the energy in the short story collection and nonfiction book translations we selected. A wonderful selection of books that it was a pleasure to read and celebrate.’

The shortlist in full:

– Jennifer Hayashida for a translation of Euphoria by Elin Cullhed (Canongate Books)
– Kira Josefsson for a translation of The Trio by Johanna Hedman (Hamish Hamilton)
– John Litell for a translation of Nordic Fauna by Andrea Lundgren (Peirene Press)
– Alice Menzies for a translation of We Know You Remember by Tove Alsterdal (Faber and Faber)
– Alice E. Olsson for a translation of The Herd by Johan Anderberg (Scribe UK)
– Saskia Vogel for a translation of Strega by Johanne Lykke Holm (Lolli Editions)

The winner and runner-up will be announced at a ceremony at the British Library on 7 February 2024. Congratulations to all the shortlisted translators.

SELTA mentorship and CPD programme in 2024: Call for Mentees

SELTA is now inviting applications to its 2024 Mentorship and CPD Programme from prospective mentees. Applications are due by 20 December 2023.

We are excited to announce that we are now inviting applications to SELTA’s 2024 Mentorship and CPD Programme from prospective mentees. Part of SELTA’s commitment to the future development of the Swedish-English literary translation sphere, this programme presents a valuable opportunity for translators at different stages of their career to hone their craft while gaining new professional skills and insight. 

The 2024 mentorship scheme will support and develop translators at different points in their translation journeys:

Early-career translators. SELTA defines early-career translators as those who have not yet published a full-length work of literary translation. MFA and MA students in translation can apply, but priority may be given to those who do not have access to the kind of guidance already present in a translation degree programme.
Mid-career translators. SELTA defines mid-career translators as those who have published one or more full-length works of literary translation. Priority will be given to applicants who have only published 1–2 full literary works.
Undergraduate translators. SELTA is also offering one mentorship to an undergraduate student or recent graduate. Recent graduates must have graduated in 2022 or 2023 and not otherwise be eligible for the ‘early-career’ category. Priority will be given to applicants who studied/are studying the Swedish language at a university in the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, but other suitably qualified students/recent graduates may be considered if appropriate.


Each translator will be paired with a more experienced mentor who will offer them guidance and support on a project of the mentee’s choosing over the course of the mentorship programme, meeting on at least five occasions. Mentors will include:

Saskia Vogel. Our work together would be grounded in a writerly sensibility, deepening your craft and exploring what you want to achieve as a translator. We can set goals and demystify the publishing process. I love writing that pushes boundaries—in form, style, and storytelling—and any sort of propulsive reading experience…
BJ Woodstein. As a translator, I enjoy developing further with every text I work on and I welcome challenges. I’ve translated a range of texts, but I’m especially passionate about children’s and YA literature. I’m also interested in translation theory as a philosophical and practical tool.
Nichola Smalley. We will work well together if you’re interested in exploring the day-to-day ins-and-outs of the publishing industry as well as the complexities of language, voice and rhythm. I love political texts that harness form to bring their meaning to the reader in a new way, but I also love silliness and humour.
Annie Prime. There is no such thing as a perfect translation, nor an untranslatable text. Translation is a series of decisions. I’d like to use my years of experience translating fantasy, children’s fiction, mystery and poetry to empower you to make these decisions with confidence.
Ian Giles. As an experienced translator of genre fiction and narrative non-fiction, I’m eager to share what I’ve learned about centring the reader’s experience and explore what our translations are used for in industry.


Devised and administered by SELTA, the programme will foster rewarding working relationships while also allowing mentees to hone in on what would best support their own professional growth. We expect the programme to constitute a committed, active collaboration that will offer not only the chance to gain practical knowledge of the act of translation and the translation world, but also to establish professional networks and best working practices.  

The programme is scheduled to run March–October 2024 and will begin in conjunction with SELTA’s spring meeting during the 2024 London Book Fair. It is expected to conclude with a translation workshop in October 2024. While the majority of this programme will take place remotely, and it is expected that mentors and mentees will communicate electronically, the working group hopes that most participants will be able to commit to attending the start-up and final meetings in person. Mentees will receive reasonable remuneration for travel costs for attending the in-person events, in addition to a £300 bursary to support expenses incurred over the course of the mentorship.

If you wish to apply for a mentorship please complete the brief form available here. The deadline for applications is 23:59 GMT on Wednesday 20th December. Applications will be considered by the working group and mentors. Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application by Friday 15 January. 

Contact us if you have any questions about the programme.

Reflections on the BCLT Advanced Scandinavian Translation workshop

SELTA members share their reflections on the BCLT’s advanced translation workshop for Danish, Norwegian and Swedish to English literary translators.

November 2023 saw the British Centre of Literary Translation (BCLT) host an advanced translation workshop for Danish, Norwegian and Swedish to English literary translators. Running online for three days and made possible thanks to the generous support of the Danish Arts Foundation, NORLA and the Swedish Arts Council, the workshop came into being thanks to a small group of dedicated translators, including SELTA Chair Ian Giles.

The event set out to bring together participants from the three Scandinavian language groups throughout, as well as incorporating three parallel workshop strands for each language. There were also  plenary events and networking opportunities to explore the similarities and differences experienced when working as literary translators with Scandinavian languages. Each group was led by a translator facilitator  and joined by  an editor with little to no knowledge of the source language. To cap it all, three online, industry-focused public sessions also took place alongside the workshops covering Trends, Challenges and Perspectives in publishing, translating genre and the infrequently-discussed topic of how to translate works that aren’t really your cup of tea. SELTA’s Sarah Death even shared a virtual afternoon tea with with TA Committee Co-Chair Vineet Lal to discuss her work and career.

A number of SELTA members took part in the translation workshop and have shared their reflections and impressions below. Hopefully these will serve as an insight into a successful and stimulating event, and whet the appetite for future endeavours.

Image from the BCLT.


Jane Davis

As a recent member of SELTA, I hadn’t much interacted with other Scandinavian translators and so I didn’t really know what to expect from the BCLT’s online Advanced Scandinavian Literary Translation Workshop. And when I saw the intense schedule – up to 7 hours of Zoom sessions on each of the three days – I rather regretted signing up at all. But a brisk, informative and entertaining welcoming presentation from Guy Puzey on the interrelationships and  miscomprehensions between the three main Scandinavian languages set the tone for what was to come. High-level, challenging, but extremely enjoyable sessions flashed past as we switched from language groups to mixed groups (mine led by the wonderful Paul Russell Garrett, who started every session with slightly terrifying warm-up exercises borrowed from the theatre world) to general sessions and broadcast webinars. Three editors had also been invited to participate, and they watched in surprise and interest as we argued over nuances and teased out meanings – and then almost always said “You could have moved even further from the source than that”.

We had a virtual pub night and I reflected – not for the first time – that it had been a particularly unfortunate coincidence that I had chosen that week to give up not only alcohol and chocolate but also to restrict myself to a mere two cups of tea or coffee per day.

But what did I learn from the workshop? Well, a few practical things that I can already tell will be worth their weight in gold as I approach future translations:

– If you’re struggling to understand a text written in one of the other languages, read it aloud as though it was your working language. This really helps with comprehension – listening to Ian Giles reading Danish with a Swedish accent was the first time I had ever understood the spoken language without subtitles.

– Make your first draft very rough. This was a technique that proved very successful in my mini-Swedish group because it prevented us from getting bogged down in the details before we had an overview of where the text was going.

– Be more editorial. As the editors kept saying, translators tend to work for the author, replicating every nuance, rather than the reader. It really is okay to smooth things out, miss out tricky concepts and take a much greater distance to the text.

Ultimately, I came away from the experience feeling much more at home amongst a lovely community of people, and with a renewed enthusiasm for translating everything, but particularly literature.


Elizabeth DeNoma

I was truly pleased to be able to join my colleagues for the Advanced Translation Workshop the other week. The programming had clearly been put together with a lot of care by Ian Giles, Kari Dickson and Paul Garrett, and there was a great mix of panel discussion alongside hands-on translation exercises and discussion.

The inclusion of the professional folks was a decided bonus, too, it was incredibly helpful for them to stick around for the entire session.

There are things that we discussed here that I know will stay with me as I approach my translations in the future – and the sense of community that was fostered, through Zoom no less, was a surprising extra benefit!

Thank you so much for the opportunity – what a wonderful use of time. Very grateful for the sponsorship and time all the organizers put into everything.


Kate Lambert

The Advanced Scandinavian Translation Workshop was an amazingly inspiring three days on Zoom. I would previously have said that workshops are always better in person, but without Zoom, I wouldn’t have got to know so many translators based in different countries or been able to work on a translation in a group of four where one of us was in the UK, one in Sweden and two in the US (all credit to them for staying awake in an alien time zone). Shared documents and breakout rooms made it all run smoothly, with the support of the BCLT IT technicians on hand to deal with any glitches.

Translators tend to work in isolation and I always appreciate SELTA’s events where we get the
chance to compare different translations of the same text. At this workshop, we not only submitted texts anonymously for group discussion but also worked together on a chunk of a Swedish autobiographical novel, graphic novels from Swedish, Norwegian and Danish, and an extract from the Swedish translation of Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow. Approaches varied, strokes of genius were celebrated (by the way, Michael should be given credit for our group’s admired addition of the word ‘obviously’) and the key confidence-inspiring thing that came out of all these sessions was that we all take different approaches to the trade-offs that translators have to make.

Many of us translate or have translated from more than one Scandinavian language and the market in which we operate has many similarities across the three countries. At other translator events I have encountered the assumption that if you work with Scandinavia, you get paid so much (comparatively) that you don’t have the right to complain about anything. It was good to be able to share experiences with colleagues who also work specifically in the Scandinavian market.

Another thing that made this workshop different was the presence of professional editors. Gaining an editor’s input on our translations as we produced them added a whole new angle and several of us, I think, found it quite liberating as translators to see how much an editor might change when reading the text as a piece of English writing, though we did also rein in their red pens by explaining the Swedish author’s intentions behind some extremely long sentences. It seemed that both editors and translators benefitted from seeing how the other worked. It was a brilliant idea to have them with us.

It was the BCLT Swedish summer school in 2013 that convinced me I could do literary translation after over ten years on the more commercial side so I was delighted to be attending another BCLT workshop ten years later, having published translations under my belt. Many thanks to everyone involved in making it happen.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash


Michael Meigs

Our many hours on Zoom from November 9 to 11, 2023 reminded us of the reach and dispersal of the literary translation profession as well as the interests that link us. The chat function quickly filled with greetings from across the world. From the UK and Scandinavian nations, of course, but also, for example, South Africa, Japan, Italy, Croatia, and the United States (east coast, west coast, and Texas, where I reside).

My good fortune was that Ian Giles moderated both smaller seminars to which I’d been assigned. Cheerful, attentive, unfailingly helpful, Ian kept the discussion focused with a light touch, summarizing and rephrasing contributions. He shared his own experiences in publishing, an industry that is woefully opaque to most of us. Someone noted a shelf of intriguing bottles in the background; Ian immediately invited us to drop by for a drink whenever we’re in town.

Literary translators may be the most siloed of artists. The task is lonely as we chip away at our chosen language, sentence by sentence, word by word. Collaborative exercises in this three-day workshop helped counter that isolation. As a team we picked translations apart and suggested alternative renderings, ever in search of the perfect equivalent. The day before the translation workshop began, organizers gave us 48 hours to craft short-fuse English versions of a short passage later revealed to come from Peter Hoeg’s Smilla’s Sense of Snow. Reviewing ten two-page first drafts produced under time pressure offered an intriguing array of possible “correct” choices. That key exercise prompted us to discuss in detail considerations of voice, register, focus, and tone.

With a six-hour time difference and sessions starting at 4 a.m. Texas time, I found myself a bit displaced from my immediate surroundings as we progressed through the three days. Removal from the immediacy of my everyday was initially disorienting—but ultimately deeply satisfying. I’d happily apply to repeat the experience.


Kathy Saranpa

Not sure what to expect from the BCLT Advanced Scandinavian Translation Seminar – and equal parts daunted and excited by the prospect of three full days online with other translators – I logged on Tuesday 7 November at noon Finnish time to a warm welcome and a fascinating keynote lecture by Dr Guy Puzey that set the tone for three days of text-based work, learning, community and camaraderie.

Now looking back at those three days, I feel that it was one of those events that stick with you for a long time because there were so many aspects of it to reconsider – is it ever OK to use the phrase ‘relentless darkness? What texts can I pitch to Editor X? Why does recasting my translation in a different font help so much in proofreading and editing?

And then of course there’s that irresistible urge to reread Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow…

Our own Ian Giles and the two coordinators from Danish and Norwegian, Paul Garrett and Kari Dickson, succeeded beyond all of my expectations. The work sessions were well-organized, well-run and thoroughly captivating and bore witness to extraordinary footwork ahead of time. The texts we worked with were excellent for their purposes and the use of graphic novels to introduce translators unfamiliar with the other two languages was a stroke of genius. They took everything into consideration – the need for reliably working technology (I’ve never seen a better or more efficient use of Zoom break rooms) and the necessity of altering focused text study with listening to webinars on a headset while walking around in a different room are two examples. It also added a lot to have editors and publishers ‘visiting’ – what they had to say about their professions as well as what they observed about us translators was very useful information.

Three days of Zoom meetings may sound like torture to some people, but Ian, Paul and Kari made it work. This is not to say that we weren’t exhausted by the end of Day Three, but for me, and I suspect for others, it was more a function of having so much ‘good stuff’ crammed into such a short space of time. While I am very much for an in-person translation seminar at some point in the future, this proved that you can have an incredibly valuable experience online as well.

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash


William Sleath

The recent online Advanced Scandinavian Translation Workshop was extraordinarily good, and I benefited enormously from taking part.

The highlight for me was the Swedish-English group translation sessions, which gave one the rare opportunity to translate together with colleagues. This was a great treat in a profession where one chiefly works in isolation. It was fascinating to juggle a plethora of translations of a word or phrase in search of the mot juste – and often we found not just one mot juste but several contenders.

Another intriguing session was the one devoted to translating ‘Scandinavianly’. Seeing how speakers of each of the three languages perceived speakers of the other languages was an eye-opener. I was above all relieved not to be the only one who found spoken Danish a nightmare!

Guy Puzey’s excellent lecture made for an impressive start to the three days, which were packed with a variety of sessions. The timetable even included a ‘pub night’, which to my surprise worked very well, despite its being on Zoom.

Whilst the Zoom format has its limitations, it meant participants in other countries were able to take part – and as far as I’m concerned it meant I took part in something I might not have attended had it involved travel & overnight stays.

Last but not least, the fact that each translator received a bursary for the workshop made participation a no-brainer.


Nicky Smalley

Over three packed days, thirty-three Scandinavian translators went deep into the complexities and conundrums of their craft. I was lucky enough to be welcomed into the Norwegian-focused group, and as someone who feels most at home in Swedish, it was a real treat to work with practiced, skilled Norwegian specialists. With a range of practical translation challenges, featuring a range of short texts that presented different challenges (knotty, playful novel excerpts, highly idiomatic language, the challenges of brevity and image-correspondence in graphic novels, a snippet of a famous Danish novel in its Scandinavian translations) we were really tested. The practical work was augmented with a series of genuinely fascinating and brilliantly put-together panel discussions that looked at some of the practical workplace concerns faced by translators. All this was topped off by the inclusion of some talented and brilliantly frank editors, and several publishers who provided some very meaningful and insightful advice. All in all it was three days, incredibly well-spent! With thanks to the speakers, the other participants, and most of all, the organisers, who really went above and beyond in putting together a fantastic programme.

Nicky Smalley longlisted for 2023 Warwick Prize

Congratulations Nicky!

Congratulations to SELTA member Nicky Smalley who has been longlisted for the 2023 Warwick Prize for Women in Translation for her translation of Amanda Svensson’s A System So Magnificent It Is Blinding published by Scribe. The title has gained a lot of positive attention, having previously longlisted for the International Booker Prize.

“In Amanda Svensson’s novel A System So Magnificent It Is Blinding, a shocking secret forces three siblings to reevaluate their places in their family and the world … A System So Magnificent It Is Blinding is a dynamic novel about methods of coping in a world where nothing is certain.” — Foreword Reviews

The shortlist will be announced in early November, and the winner announced on 23rd November.

Michael Gallagher’s translation of Pascal Engman’s Femicide wins Petrona

Congratulations, Michael!

Michael Gallagher’s translation of Femicide by Pascal Engman has been announced as the winner of this year’s Petrona Award. From the judges:

“Continuing in the tradition of fellow Swedish authors Sjöwall and Wahlöö, and Henning Mankell, Pascal Engman uses his writing to comment on societal values making FEMICIDE an interesting, fictional take on the multifaceted topic of violence against women. The book stood out to all the Petrona judges for several reasons. The way FEMICIDE opens the reader’s eyes to the steadily increasing threat of the incel movement and what makes these men tick was felt by all the judges… All the judges felt this book offered something creatively original that captured the zeitgeist of the early twenty-first century and it is a deserved winner”

Engman will receive a trophy, and both author and translator will receive a cash prize.

Read full details, including comments by the Pascal Engman, Michael Gallagher, and Legend Press Commissioning Editor Cari Rosen here.

Afternoon Tea with Sarah Death at the SoA

Award-winning translator and SELTA member Sarah Death will be in conversation with translator Vineet Lal to discuss her work and career.

Long-time SELTA member Sarah Death is the star of a cosy autumnal event online, 9 November @ 14:30 – 15:15 GMT.

Sarah will be in conversation with TA Committee Co-Chair Vineet Lal to discuss her work and career, and to offer a glimpse into her creative routine.

This event is in conjunction with the Translators Association and the British Centre for Literary Translation.

For more details and how to register, click here.

Deborah Bragan-Turner longlisted for 2023 National Translation Award

Congratulations Deborah!

Congratulations to SELTA member Deborah Bragan-Turner who is on the longlist for the 2023 National Translation Award in Prose for her translation of The Antarctica of Love by Sara Stridsberg published in the US by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

From the longlist: “To read The Antarctica of Love is to feel at the mercy of emotion: of sorrow, longing, horror, hopelessness, awe at the astonishing beauty of the writing. A nameless murdered woman lingers in this world, an unwilling witness to the mostly predictable events that occur after her death. As she attempts to untether herself, and to quiet the voices that still “[crawl] like insects in the place where [her] heart once was,” she recounts her past—in particular her experiences with heroin addiction—in impossibly visceral terms. Deborah Bragan-Turner renders Stridsberg’s prose in language so gorgeous it is practically iridescent.”

Petrona Award longlist 2023 sees four SELTA members nominated

Congratulations to Michael, Rachel, Sarah and Ian!

Congratulations to four SELTA members who feature on the 2023 Petrona Award longlist which has been announced today. The twelve books include titles from Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland and even Switzerland – with Swedish publications taking the lion’s share of entries at five out of twelve.

The books, authors and translators are as follows:

Pascal Engman – Femicide, tr. Michael Gallagher (Sweden, Legend Press)
Susanne Jansson – Winter Water, tr. Rachel Willson-Broyles (Sweden, Hodder & Stoughton)
Håkan Nesser – The Axe Woman, tr. Sarah Death (Sweden, Mantle)
Gustaf Skördeman – Codename Faust, tr. Ian Giles (Sweden, Zaffre)

Last year, two SELTA members made the Petrona shortlist, with Agnes Broomé going on to win. This year’s shortlist will be announced on 7 September 2023.

Andy Turner’s translation of ‘Wild Boar’ by Hannah Lutz shortlisted for publication by the Emma Press

Congratulations Andy!

Book cover of Vildsvin by Hannah Lutz.

Congratulations to Andy Turner, whose translation of Wild Boar by Hannah Lutz has appeared on the shortlist of titles to be published soon by Emma Press.

The independent publisher specialises in poetry, short fiction, essays and children’s books. They run regular calls for submission to decide what to publish and are open to translations as well as original works in English. You can read more about the submissions process, as well as specific information relating to the current round here.

Praise for Andy from the shortlist: “Not a word is wasted in the opening of this Swedish-language polyphonic short novel raising questions of memory, migration and the anthropocene. We also appreciated the translator’s clear vision of the novella and how it would fit within The Emma Press catalogue.”

Michael Gallagher longlisted for 2023 Dagger

Congratulations to SELTA member Michael Gallagher whose translation of Femicide by Pascal Engman (published by Legend Press) is on the longlist for the 2023 Crime Writers’ Association Dagger for Crime Fiction in Translation. Previously known as the CWA International Dagger, the award showcases a broad range of works within the crime genre, including thrillers, suspense novels and spy fiction. Congratulations …

Congratulations to SELTA member Michael Gallagher whose translation of Femicide by Pascal Engman (published by Legend Press) is on the longlist for the 2023 Crime Writers’ Association Dagger for Crime Fiction in Translation.

Previously known as the CWA International Dagger, the award showcases a broad range of works within the crime genre, including thrillers, suspense novels and spy fiction.

Congratulations Michael!