We are delighted to announce that JC Niala has been awarded our third annual New Translator’s Bursary for her translation in progress of Dennis Shonko’s story ‘Nguvu za Bahari’ (‘The Mighty Bahari’), originally written in Swahili. The finished translation will be published on our website later this year as part of our online fiction series.

The focus for the 2023 New Translator’s Bursary was on the languages and cultures of sub-Saharan Africa. Our call-out last September attracted 11 applications from new and emerging translators who have yet to publish a book-length translation, or have yet been contracted to translate a manuscript for publication. Applications were assessed by The Stinging Fly translator in residence, Frank Wynne, working alongside fellow award-winning translator, Ros Schwartz. Frank had this to say about the selection process:

It was a great pleasure once again to be part of The Stinging Fly jury, and to be joined by the brilliant Ros Schwartz. This year, the focus was on the literature and languages of sub-Saharan Africa.  Together, we discovered writings from a range of languages across the continent including Mauritian French and Creole, Angolan and Mozambican Portuguese, and Arabic from Lebanon and Egypt. There were a number of very strong entries and it was a challenge to select a winner from such a talented cohort of emerging translators. We are particularly delighted to announce to announce the winner is JC Niala’s translation of ‘The Mighty Bahari’ from the original Swahili, and very much look forward to working with her on the finished text.’

JC Niala, speaking about the award, said:

‘Receiving this bursary is an incredibly moving experience. For many of us from post-colonial African backgrounds, engaging with Swahili transcends mere communication—it is an act of cultural restoration. Swahili, despite its status as a global language and being among the top ten most widely spoken languages in the world, carries with it a layered history. Its widespread use today is the result of concerted efforts to revive and reclaim it. Dennis Shonko stands out as a key figure in this movement. Identifying as a Swahili Literature activist, Shonko crafts narratives that boldly confront challenging themes. Having the opportunity to delve into his work is not just a privilege; it represents a dual blessing.’



JC Niala is an award-winning, multilingual theatremaker based in Oxford, England. She mainly works in English and Swahili while also incorporating other African languages like Kikuyu and Luo in her plays. Her ‘Shakespeare in Swahili’ project, funded by Arts Council England, includes a translation of ‘Macbeth’. 

Ros Schwartz is an award-winning translator from French. Acclaimed for her new version of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince (published in 2010), she has over 100 fiction and nonfiction titles to her name. One of the team retranslating George Simenon’s novels for Penguin Classics. She has translated a number of Francophone writers including Tahar ben Jelloun, Fatou Diome and Ousmane Sembène and most recently Max Lobe’s A Long Way from Douala (HopeRoad) and Does Snow Turn a Person White Inside? (HopeRoad). She was a judge for the 2023 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize.

Frank Wynne is an Irish literary translator from French and Spanish whose authors have included Michel Houellebecq, Javier Cercas and Virginie Despentes. He has twice jointly won the Dublin Literary Award (in 2002, and again in 2023 for his translation of Alice Zeniter’s The Art of Losing). His work has twice earned him both the Scott Moncrieff Prize and the Premio Valle Inclán. He has edited the anthologies Found in Translation (2018) and QUEER: LGBT writing from Ancient Times to Yesterday (2021). He was chair of the jury for the 2022 International Booker Prize.