Author and filmmaker Nana Ekvtimishvili’s debut novel The Pear Field is one of three finalists of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s 2021 Literature Prize, after the juries narrowed down a longlist of 10 works unveiled in March.
The book, which, following its release for English-speaking readers in November, has earned plaudits and is also in this year’s International Booker Prize longlist, has been selected alongside Szczepan Twardoch’s The King of Warsaw and Mr K Released by Matei Vişniec in the penultimate round of the EBRD prize.
Ekvtimishvili’s work was praised for being “vicious, funny, totally enchanting and teeming with life” by chair of the jury panel Toby Lichtig, while jury team member Anna Aslanyan said it “packs a punch on many levels, delivering on every promise”. Judges also gave acclaim to the translation by Elizabeth Heighway that has brought the novel to new readers since last year.
#EBRDLiteraturePrize2021 Books shortlist is out:
— The EBRD (@EBRD) May 5, 2021
[T]hroughout this parable of survival, so persuasively translated by Elizabeth Heighway, you are struck by the universes [the characters] make with each other, and haunted by their urgent universes of the heart
– jury team member Julian Evans
In the longlist unveiled earlier this Spring, The Pear Field was one of 10 works selected from regions where EBRD has operations, for representing “outstanding works of storytelling”. The novel was published by Peirene Press and introduced to English-speaking readers in an online event co-hosted by the publishing house with the Book Hive bookstore.
The book is centred around its 18-year-old protagonist Lela, who lives in a school for intellectually disabled children. Through a look at her character, Ektvimishvili introduces to readers a view on life on the margins of society in the unforgiving post-Soviet transformation in Georgia, inspired by childhood memories from the author.
The winner of the EBRD 2021 Literature Prize will be revealed later this month, with the winning author-translator duo set to receive a €20,000 prize.