Originally published in Afrikaans in 2019, the novel was released in English in 2022 as A Library to Flee.
The prize judges said of Rose-Innes: ‘Her exemplary work in bridging linguistic and cultural gaps through translation has earned her this esteemed accolade.’
The UJ Prize for Literary Translation is presented for ‘the translation of a text from any language into any one of the official South African languages, emphasising the rich linguistic and cultural diversity of the nation’.
The prize is intended to serve ‘as a testament to the outstanding achievements of translators within the realm of literary translation’, and comes with R50,000 prize money.
According to prize administrators, the 2023 edition of the award received a ‘remarkable’ number of entries of ‘exceptional quality’:
‘The rigorous selection process proved both challenging and rewarding for the judges.
‘UJ sends its warmest congratulations to Henrietta Rose-Innes for her exceptional contribution to the world of translation and for her dedication to fostering greater cultural understanding through the art of language. Her remarkable work will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on the world of literature and multilingual communication.’
Also shortlisted for the award this year were Michiel Heyns, for his translation from Afrikaans to English of Lodewyk G Du Plessis’s novel The Dao of Daniel, and Karen Press, for her translation from Afrikaans to English of Antjie Krog‘s poetry collection Pillage.
Rose-Innes, a JRB Contributing Editor, is one of South Africa’s most acclaimed writers, perhaps most well known for her novels, the latest being Green Lion, and her award-winning short stories. This is her first award to recognise her work in translation.
The prize is now in its third year. The previous winners were Michiel Heyns, for his translation of Buys by Willem Anker as Red Dog in English, and SJ Naudé, for his own translation of his short story collection Dol heuning into English as Mad Honey.
The panel of judges for the award this year was Prof. Ilse Feinauer (Stellenbosch University), Prof. Thys Human (North-West University) and Marius Swart (Stellenbosch University). Prof. Thys Human served as prize coordinator. The prize is administered by UJ’s Multilingual Language Services Office.