Becker Prize

A.L. Becker Southeast Asian Literature in Translation Prize

The A.L. Becker Southeast Asian Literature in Translation Prize recognizes an outstanding English translation of a work of Southeast Asian literature from any country of the region (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, or Viet Nam).

Works translated from any Southeast Asian language are eligible. The Prize recognizes the importance of works of translation in teaching about the region. Any translation, published in any format, from a work that may be broadly defined as literature within the norms of the country of publication is eligible. The translator need not be a member of the AAS.

The Prize was established in 2011 and is awarded triennially.


$1,000 award for the translator.

Guidelines for Submission

  • Only books bearing a copyright date of 2021, 2022 or 2023 will be eligible for the 2025 awards.
  • Publishers must complete the book nomination form.
  • Each press may nominate a maximum of six books for the Becker Prize.
  • Only publishers may nominate books.
  • Upon receipt of a completed nomination form, publishers will be provided with addresses for prize committee members. A copy of each entry, clearly labeled “A.L. Becker Book Prize,” must be sent to each member of the appropriate committee.

The next Becker Prize competition will be held in 2024 for the 2025 prize. Information about nominating books for the 2025 award will be posted in spring 2024.

2022 Award

Roger Nelson, A New Sun Rises Over the Old Land: A Novel of Sihanouk’s Cambodia (National University of Singapore Press, 2020)

With this artful translation of Suon Sorin’s New Sun Rises over the Old Land, Roger Nelson gives the English-reading public a gift of insight into the hopes that a post-independence Cambodia which would have served the poor as well as the rich and the rural as well as urban populations. Nelson’s translation takes us from the promise of a new nation embodied in the National Assembly meeting, in flashbacks, to the depths of desperation and despair which a young, poor, yet honest couple endured during the French colonial regime. Under that structure, capitalists and corrupt government functionaries profited, but truly righteous and honest believers could save the day, embodied in the modern and kind government worker. The end of the novel takes the reader back to the promise that an independent Cambodia would serve all the people. Though the Khmer-Rouge era shattered this promise soon thereafter, Nelson’s work reminds us that Cambodia was, and continues to be a place of deep history, literary innovation, and hopeful promise. His translation also gives us rare insight into Khmer reportage and a literary legacy, much of which has been lost during the Khmer Rouge era. Nelson’s translation reminds of us that legacy.

Past Awards

A.L. Becker Southeast Asian Literature in Translation Prize

2012 Huynh Sanh Thong (Honorary Inaugural Award)

2013 Christopher Baker and Pasuk Phongphaichit, Khun Chang Khun Phaen

2016 Soledad Reyes, What Now Ricky?

2019 Stuart Robson, The Old Javanese Ramayana: A New English Translation