The Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize

The Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize is for book-length literary translations into English from any living European language. It aims to honour the craft of translation, and to recognise its cultural importance. It is funded by Lord Weidenfeld and by New College, The Queen’s College and St Anne’s College, Oxford.


The Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize

2016: This year’s judges are Valentina Gosetti, Jonathan Katz, Graham Nelson, and Patrick McGuinness (Chair).

Congratulations to Philip Roughton for Jón Kalman Stefánsson’s The Heart of Man (MacLehose Press), Paul Vincent and John Irons for 100 Dutch-Language Poems (Holland Park Press) who were announced as the joint winners of the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize at the prizegiving and dinner at St Anne’s College, Oxford on Saturday 11 June. 

The judges said: 

"This treasury of Dutch and Flemish poems (parallel texts of originals and translations) brings together single works of poets ranging from the 11th century to the 21st. It is a rich anthology, based on the two translators’ personal preferences, but also managing to represent something like a canon of important works judged by criteria clearly explained in the translators’ preface.  In shortlisting the book the judges are commending not only the quality of the translations but the selection itself of poets and poems, and the composition of a whole that is even more than the sum of its parts. There is to our knowledge no comparably wide-ranging collection available to English readers, and although inevitably some omissions will be felt, many of the most influential poets are indeed here, powerfully introduced in these new English versions. We believe that the book will be a uniquely valuable source for teachers and students, but we are impressed above all by the inventiveness, the variety, and often the sheer beauty of these English works, through which the Dutch poetic voices speak and sing to us." 

Philip Roughton’s translation of Jón Kalman Stefánsson’s The Heart of Man (MacLehose Press)

 Patrick McGuinness said:

"This is the third of a trilogy whose first two book, Heaven and Hell and The Sorrow of Angels, also published by MacLehose. This is a great epic tale, but it’s also written in the most powerful poetic prose. It is totally compelling, and as I was scrambling about for the right adjectives to describe it, I realized I’d do better to simply quote Boyd Tonkin’s lovely review from The Independent: “Beautifully translated by Philip Roughton, Stefansson's immersive prose swells, thunders and sparkles with all the shifting moods of the sea on an Icelandic summer's day.”

The short list included eight books from an outstanding entry of nearly 110 titles in translations from 15 different languages. 

Once again there were impressive submissions from both larger and smaller publishing houses: Jonathan Cape, Faber & Faber, Istros Books, MacLehose Press, Oneworld, and Bloomsbury. The list contains translations from six languages. 

The full 2016 shortlist:

  • Paul Vincent and John Irons for 100 Dutch-Language Poems (Holland Park Press)
  • John Cullen for Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation (Oneworld)
  • Stephen Pearl  for Ivan Goncharov’s  The Same Old Story (Alma Classics)
  • Don Bartlett  for Karl Ove Knausgaard’s Dancing in the Dark: My Struggle (Harvill Secker)
  • Shaun Whiteside for  Charles Lewinsky’s Melnitz (Atlantic Books)
  • Lola M. Rogers  for Sofi Oksanen’s When the Doves Disappeared (Atlantic Books)
  • Philip Roughton for Jón Kalman Stefánsson’s The Heart of Man (MacLehose Press) 
  • Lisa C. Hayden for Eugene Vodolazkin’s Laurus (Oneworld)

The prize of £2,000 was awarded at Oxford Translation Day, at St Anne’s College on Saturday 11 June. 

Enquiries about the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize should be directed to the Prize administrator, Dr Eleni Philippou, at