writer Agustín Fernández Mallo and Dutch translator Adri Boon
Winner of the 2022 European Literature Prize
22 September 2022
The 2022 European Literature Prize goes to the Nocilla trilogy by Spanish author Agustín Fernández Mallo in a Dutch translation by Adri Boon, published by Koppernik. The jury describes it as ‘a fantastic book that shows what literature can do: precisely by withstanding all the crumbling apart and splitting up, and by demonstrating how that which appears fragmentary stands alone, reverberates, suddenly makes contact and forms an amalgam that turns out to have unforeseen properties’. The prize will be presented to Agustín Fernández Mallo and Adri Boon on Saturday 5 November at the Crossing Border Festival in The Hague by jury chair Manon Uphoff.
The European Literature Prize (not to be confused with the EU Literature Prize), is awarded to the best contemporary work of European fiction that has appeared in Dutch translation over the preceding year. The award goes to both the author and the translator of the winning book; the author receives €10,000 and the translator €5,000. The jury hopes that this unique book will reach a bigger readership as a result of the prize.
Agustín Fernández Mallo (l) en Adri Boon (photo: Teun Grondman/Dutch Foundation for Literature)
From the jury report: ‘The Nocilla trilogy teems with people who are different, who look at things differently, perceive things differently, who throw themselves into impossible projects, devote their whole lives to things we might call absurd were it not that precisely this dedication to the impossible and unproductive, the apparently futile, can be seen as a powerful reaction to the dictatorship of usefulness, the marketization of all that is human, of all that is alive. Look, the Nocilla trilogy calls out to us, the sense and nonsense of our existence really could still go in any direction. Let’s get imagining, thinking, creating. Let’s make something. Because we can. Because in essence we are creative beings. Thus the Nocilla trilogy reveals a profound engagement with life.’
The jury was at least as impressed by the Dutch translation as by the original work. ‘The translator, Adri Boon, has delivered a real tour de force, because with all those loose fragments, quotations, references, types of text in different styles, not forgetting a very long sentence in the final volume, it must have been a formidably difficult job. But what suppleness, what agility in the translation as in the original. […] In the Dutch all those registers, all those connected or perhaps unconnected threads, all those quotes and references have to be made visible, and need to sound just as they do in the original work. That requires erudition, but also great empathy and inventiveness.’
A jury of seventeen independent bookstores selected the longlist. The shortlist and the winner have been chosen by a jury drawn from the world of literature and literary translation. The jury members are author Manon Uphoff (chair), critic and writer Hans Maarten van den Brink (De Groene Amsterdammer), literary translator from English Martine Vosmaer (2020 winner along with co-translator Karina van Santen and author Ali Smith) and booksellers Ilja Velthuis (Athenaeum, Haarlem) and Fons Plukker (Maximus Hillegersberg, Rotterdam).
European Literature Prize (Europese Literatuurprijs)
The award ceremony with chair Manon Uphoff, writer Agustín Fernández Mallo and translator Adri Boon will take place on Saturday afternoon 5 November at Crossing Border Festival in The Hague, the Netherlands. Tickets will be available through www.crossingborder.nl.
Earlier winners include Saša Stanišić and Dutch translator Annemarie Vlaming for Herkomst (Herkunft), Ali Smith and translators Karina van Santen and Martine Vosmaer for Lente (Spring), David Diop and translator Martine Woudt for Meer dan een broer (At Night All Blood is Black), Arno Geiger and translator Wil Hansen for Onder de Drachenwand (Unter der Drachenwand), Johan Harstad and translators Edith Koenders and Paula Stevens for Max, Mischa & het Tet-offensief (Max, Misch & Tetoffensiven) and Max Porter and translator Saskia van der Lingen for Verdriet is het ding met veren (Grief Is the Thing with Feathers).
The European Literature Prize is an initiative of the Academic-Cultural Centre Spui25, the Dutch Foundation for Literature, the weekly De Groene Amsterdammer and Athenaeum Boekhandels in cooperation with Hebban.nl and De Schrijverscentrale. It is financed by Stichting Lira Fonds, the De Lancey & De La Hanty Foundation and the Dutch Foundation for Literature.