World Literature Today Announces 2023 Student Translation Prize Winners

May 31, 2023
by  WLT
A diptych of photographs of the two Student Translation Prize
Katie Kassam and Vala Thorodds, winners of the 2023 Student Translation Prizes

World Literature Today, the University of Oklahoma’s award-winning magazine of international literature and culture, has announced the winners of its annual Student Translation Prize.  

Katie Kassam and Vala Thorodds were recently named the recipients of the sixth annual translation prize for students sponsored by World Literature Today. Consistent with World Literature Today’s commitment to publishing literature in translation, the WLT Student Translation Prize recognizes the talent and promise of translation students worldwide. 

The editors of WLT judged the competition: Daniel Simon, assistant director and editor in chief; Michelle Johnson, managing and culture editor; and Rob Vollmar, book review and online editor. They selected a winner in each of the two categories, prose and poetry. Each prizewinner will receive a cash award, and their winning translations will be published on the WLT website in June. 

Robert Con Davis-Undiano, World Literature Today’s executive director, noted that this prize “recognizes the fact of translation as one of the most vital and important things we ever do as a culture. WLT is proud to be encouraging emerging translators to hone skills in the practice of this most vital activity in the publishing world.” 

Recipients of the 2023 World Literature Today Student Translation Prizes 

Katie Kassam won the prose category for “Wolf Food,” her translation from Russian of the prologue to the science-fiction novella Волчья сыть (Volch’ia syt’), by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko. Kassam is a recent translation graduate from South London who currently lives in Scotland. She holds a master’s degree in translation studies, specializing in translation between Russian and English, and a bachelor of arts degree in modern foreign languages and history, both from Durham University. Most recently, she completed a six-month internship in editing and terminology at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. She enjoys theater, painting and exploring science fiction and fantasy across cultures. Her faculty sponsors for the submission were Carol Ermakova and Ekaterina Chown from Durham University. 

Translating Icelandic poet Kristín Ómarsdóttir, Vala Thorodds won the poetry category for “National Anthem.” Thorodds is a translator, poet, publisher, and editor. She received a PEN/Heim grant for her translation of the novel Swanfolk, by Kristín Ómarsdóttir, published in the United States and the United Kingdom in 2022, and her translation of Forevernoon, by Ásta Fanney Sigurðardóttir, was recently named a Guardian poetry book of the month. Her work has appeared in publications including Granta, the White Review, and The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem. Her faculty sponsor for the submission was Aron Aji, director of Translation Programs at the University of Iowa.