Reymont translation wins prestigious Found In Translation award
British-Polish translator Anna Zaranko has been named the winner of the Found in Translation Award 2023 for her English translation of the Polish epic The Peasants (Chłopi), by Nobel prize-winning author Władysław Reymont.
Originally published in four volumes between 1904 and 1909, The Peasants earned Reymont the 1924 Nobel Prize for Literature and has since been translated into 27 languages.
Published by Penguin Classics in 2022, Zaranko's translation was notable at the time for being the first new English translation of Reymont's classic work to be published in almost a century (the first was published in 1924/25). From the outset, it received high praise from from fellow translators and a prestigious UK literature journal.
Ursula Phillips, a British translator of Polish literature said in her review of The Peasants: “One of the notable aspects of the novel is the ‘peasant-speak’ language created by the author, which does not reflect any dialect spoken in rural Poland.
“Zaranko’s translation approaches this language with a light touch, utilising colourful informal speech that avoids any reliance on British dialects, while still retaining its northern rhythm at times.”
Continuing, she added: “Zaranko’s approach not only makes the original text accessible to contemporary readers but also helps to maintain its authenticity.
“As a result, her translation is a remarkable testament to her exceptional skill and expertise in translation, and it stands as a significant achievement in the field of Polish literature in translation.”
Megan Thomas, co-recipient of the 2021 Found in Translation Award, said: "Anna Zaranko's astonishing, enthralling translation plunges readers into a world thrumming with life, gliding with seeming effortlessness between salty gossip and piercing longing, wry observation and exquisite lyricism. In her hands, the novel's 900+ pages fly by – a pure pleasure.”
Zaranko's translation also received high praise from the prestigious Times Literary Supplement, with Benjamin Paloff writing in his book review that Zaranko's is a “a virtuosic new translation.”
He added: "Reymont seeks to draw the reader into the natural flow of this microcosm of society, as well as the community’s rich harmony with nature... We lose ourselves in quotidian affairs that unfold at just enough remove in space or time as to enchant us anew...
“That [Anna] Zaranko manages to sustain this spell over nearly 1,000 pages testifies to her exceptional talents as a translator.”
Responding to the publication of the prize announcement on the Instagram page of the Polish Cultural Institute in London, Zaranko responded simply to say "Thank you everyone for your very kind comments.”
An established translator of Polish literature, Anna Zaranko was born in the UK to Polish parents. The 2023 Found in Translation Award marks her second award of this kind. In 2020 she received the award for her translation of The Memoir of an Anti-hero by Kornel Filipowicz.
She is currently working on a translation of short stories by Kornel Filipowicz, and Under the Sun (Pod Słońcem) by Julia Fiedorczuk.
Established in 2008, the Found in Translation Award (FiTA), is organised and assessed by a jury of representatives from the Polish Book Institiute, W.A.B publishers and the Polish Cultural Institutes in London and New York and is regarded as Poland's most prestigious award for translators of Polish literature abroad.
The prize offered by the award this year is a one-month residence in Kraków, a monthly grant of 2,000 PLN, flights to and from Kraków and a financial award of PLN 16,000.