2019 Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize Shortlist Announced

I’ve been reading a lot about Kurt Wolff lately in the context of working on my biography-in-progress of Robert Walser: as a young man, Wolff published Walser. As a middle-aged man, he emigrated to the U.S. in 1941 with his wife Helen, and the two of them went on to become legendary English-language publishers with their own imprint at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. The prize named in their honor celebrates an outstanding literary translation from German into English published in the U.S. and comes with a purse of $10,000 for the translator. The prize used to be administered by the Goethe-Institut Chicago, but since 2015 it’s been overseen by the Goethe-Institut New York. I don’t see the members of this year’s jury listed on the website, but they’ll surely be announced before the prize is awarded in June. Meanwhile, here are the translators on this year’s Wolff Prize shortlist:

  • W. C. Bamberger, for his translation of Oscar A. H. Schmitz’s Hashish (Wakefield Press)
  • Margot Bettauer Dembo, for her translation of Anna Seghers’ The Seventh Cross (New York Review Books)
  • Iain Galbraith, for his translation of Esther Kinsky’s River (Transit Books)
  • Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, for her translation of Ulrich Raulff’s Farewell to the Horse: A Cultural History (W.W. Norton)
  • Tim Mohr, for his translation of Wolfgang Herrndorf’s Sand (New York Review Books)
  • Damion Searls, for his translation of Uwe Johnson’s Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl (New York Review Books)

For more information on the prize and the finalists, visit the Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize page on the website of the Goethe Institut. Best of luck to all the shortlisted translators!

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