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Milen Ruskov Wins the European Union Prize for Literature

Last week, during the Frankfurt Book Fair, the winners of this year’s European Union Prize for Literature were announced, and among the winners was Bulgaria’s Milen Ruskov, who also happens to be published by Open Letter. (Not terribly surprising, since we’ve cornered the market on Bulgarian literature in translation.)

The novel that Ruskov won for is Height (or Summit) (Възвишение) which came out in 2011, but has yet to be translated into English. If you’re interested in reading him though—and you should be, since he’s incredible talented and has a very distinctive voice—you can check out Thrown into Nature, which was the inaugural winner of the Contemporary Bulgarian Novel Contest that we co-run with the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation.

In terms of Height/Summit, this was the “Story of the Week” in Missing Slate magazine, and is described by the EUPL like this:

Summit is set in Turkish-ruled Bulgaria in 1872, the feverish period known as the Bulgarian Revival. The pretentious pomp of revolutionary ideals is filtered through the consciousness of the practical Bacho Gicho and his credulous companion Asen, in a rich, crude Renaissance language which demands to be read out loud. Ruskov’s daring blows away all the patriotic clichés, without underestimating the desperate heroism of the times.

This year’s winners of the EUPL are: Ben Blushi (Albania), Milen Ruskov (Bulgaria), Jan Němec (Czech Republic), Makis Tsitas (Greece), Oddný Eir (Iceland), Janis Jonevs (Latvia), Armin Öhri (Liechtenstein), Pierre J. Mejlak (Malta), Ognjen Spahić (Montenegro), Marente de Moor (The Netherlands), Uglješa Šajtinac (Serbia), Birgül Oğuz (Turkey) and Evie Wyld (United Kingdom). You can find synopses of their books here.

And from the official press release, here’s some info about the prizes themselves:

Each winner receives €5 000. More importantly, they benefit from extra promotion and international visibility. Their publishers are encouraged to apply for EU funding to have the winning books translated into other languages to reach new markets.

Since the Prize was launched in 2009, the EU has provided funding for the translation of books by 56 (out of 59) EUPL winners, into 20 different European languages, covering a total of 203 translations – on average 3-4 translations per book. The winners also benefit from extra visibility at Europe’s major book fairs, including Frankfurt, London, Göteborg and the Passaporta Festival in Brussels.

This year’s Prize winners will be presented with their awards during a gala ceremony at the Concert Noble in Brussels on 18 November, in the presence of the European Commissioner for Education and Culture, members of the European Parliament and representatives of the Italian Presidency of the EU.



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