London’s International Festival of Arts and Ideas

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Risa Domb / Porjes Prize

Todd Hasak-Lowy

Asaf Schurr

The triennial Risa Domb/ Porjes Hebrew-Engligh Translation Prize, initiated in 1998 to promote recognition of the skills of Hebrew-English translators, is sponsored by the Porjes Trust and administered by the JBC, in association with the Society of Authors and the TLS. It was re-named in honour of Risa Domb, the revered Cambridge Professor of Hebrew Literature.


The 2016 Prize will open for submissions in July 2015. Details on how to enter will be listed on this page in due course.

The 2013 Prize

Todd Hasak-Lowy is the winner of the 2013 Risa Domb/Porjes Translation Prize for Asaf Schurr’s novel, Motti. This prize is offered triennially by the UK Jewish Book Council. The prize will be awarded by The Society of Authors, in association with the TLS, at their annual Literary Translation Prize Ceremony, on February 12, 2014 at Europe House.

The Translator

Todd Hasak-Lowy holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley and teaches creative writing and literature at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is the author of Here and Now: History, Nationalism, and Realism in Hebrew Fiction; a short story collection, The Task of this Translator; a novel, Captives; and 33 Minutes, a book for younger readers.

The Book

Motti was first published in Hebrew by Babel Press in 2008 and published in English by Dalkey Archive Press in 2011. It is a novel about friendship, fantasy, existential choices and a dog named Laika.

The Author

Asaf Schurr, was born in Jerusalem in 1976. A multi award-winning novelist and literary critic for the Hebrew Press, Schurr is also a translator. Motti is the second of Schurr’s four novels, written in quick succession – and the first to be translated into English. It won the Prime Minister’s Prize when first published in 2008.

Judges’ quotes on the winning translation:

‘Todd Hasak-Lowy’s translation of Asaf Schurr's novel, Motti, is near-perfect pitch. His sensitivity to the subtle nuances of contemporary Hebrew idiom, coupled with his own formidable talents as a fiction writer, serves Schurr’s novel to English readers in all of its fresh and original crispness’. (Yaron Peleg)

‘It is never easy to separate an author’s talents from that of his or her book's translator, but Todd Hasak-Lowy’s translation of this highly original novel is not only lucid and engaging, but also conveys many of the undertones that define present-day Israel.' (Naomi Gryn)

‘This short philosophical novel about a crime, its inadvertent victim/accomplice – replete with quirky authorial interventions and epigrams from Wittgenstein – is rendered in exquisite playfulness by Todd Hasak-Lowy’. (Lucy Silver)

Highly Commended Translations

Two other works are notable for their striking re-creations of the original Hebrew texts: Evan Fallenberg’s translation of Yair Lapid’s Memories After My Death: The Story of Joseph ‘Tommy’ Lapid (Elliot & Thompson, 2011); and Nicholas de Lange’s translation of Amos Oz’s Scenes from Village Life (Vintage Books, 2011). 

The Judges

Yaron Peleg teaches Modern Hebrew Literature at Cambridge University; Naomi Gryn is a writer and filmmaker; the third judge, Leon Yudkin, a Hebrew scholar, former lecturer at Manchester University and UCL and the author of 13 books, died suddenly last summer and Lucy Silver, co-chair of the Jewish Book Council, took his place. 


Past Prizes

In 2010, the first Risa Domb/Porjes prize was awarded to Peter Cole for his extraordinary collection of medieval poetry: The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain 950-1492 (Princeton University Press 2007). Evan Fallenberg was runner-up for his superb translation of Beaufort (Vintage Books 2009), Ron Leshem’s award-winning novel about soldiers situated in a remote outpost in Southern Lebanon.

Prize judges were Tamar Drukker, Gabriel Josipovici and Tsila Ratner.

Nicholas de Lange was the winner of the 2007 prize for his wonderful rendition of A Tale of Love and Darkness (Chatto & Windus), Amos Oz’s celebrated memoir.

In 2004, the prize was shared between Barbara Harshav, for The Labor of Life: Selected Plays by Hanoch Levin (Stanford University Press) and Nicholas de Lange, for The Same Sea (Harcourt) by Amos Oz.


Earlier prize-winners were co-winners of the 2001 prize: Peter Cole for The Poems of Ibn Gabirol (Princeton Press) and Nicholas de Lange for A.B. Yehoshua’s A Journey to the End of the Millennium (Halban); and Dalya Bilu in 1998 for A.B. Yehoshua’s Open Heart (Halban).


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Highlights from the 2015 festival are now online.