Polly Barton
Writer in Residence with the Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize

Marking the fourth year of our collaboration with Fitzcarraldo Editions, Polly Barton will join us on a residency as the winner of the 2019 Essay Prize, an annual competition for British and Irish writers yet to have secured a publishing deal. The prize rewards the best proposal for a book-length essay with a residency and book commission. Polly’s proposal was chosen from 59 entries by an editorial committee which includes Joanna Biggs (London Review of Books), Brian Dillon (Writer and Critic), Joanna Kavenna (Author), Paul Keegan (Editor, Penguin Classics and Faber poetry) and Jacques Testard (Publisher, Fitzcarraldo Editions). 

Barton was awarded the prize for Fifty Sounds, a personal dictionary of the Japanese language, and a record of a process of linguistic and cultural assimilation simultaneously unique and universal, focusing closely on the experience of the author, who first travelled to Japan at the age of twenty-one to teach English on the remote island of Sado, and now works as a literary translator.

Polly Barton is a translator of Japanese literature and non-fiction. Born in 1984, and raised in west London, she studied philosophy at Cambridge before travelling with the JET Programme to teach English in Sado Island, Japan. She received an MA in the Theory and Practice of Translation at SOAS. Stories she has translated have appeared in Words Without Borders, Granta and The White Review. Full-length translations include Spring Garden by Tomoka Shibasaki (Pushkin Press, 2017) and Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda (Tilted Axis Press; forthcoming). She was the winner of the Inaugural JLPP International Japanese Translation Competition held by the Japanese Ministry of Culture in 2012 and the recipient of the 2016 Kyoko Selden International Translation Prize.