Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize Photo: Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach

The annual Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize is awarded each spring to honor an outstanding literary translation from German into English published in the USA the previous year. The translator of the winning translation will receive US $10,000. The prize was established in 1996 and was administered by the Goethe-Institut Chicago until 2014. Funded by the German government, the Prize will be administered by the Goethe-Institut New York beginning in 2015.

Prize Recipient 2016

Daniel Bowles has been chosen to receive the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize by a jury of five for his translation of Christian Kracht's Imperium: A Fiction of the South Seas published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2015. The honor will be presented to him in June 2016 by the Consul General of Germany in New York.

Jury Statement

The jury is delighted to award the 2016 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize to Daniel Bowles for his translation of Swiss novelist Christian Kracht’s Imperium, the story of a German radical vegetarian nudist at the turn of the twentieth century who was determined to found a South Seas colony based on worship of the sun and of coconuts.  This novel, which brims with allusions and intertextual echoes, evokes literary models from Conrad, Stevenson, and Melville to Thomas Mann.  Bowles’s brilliant, creative use of an exaggeratedly antiquated diction and syntax to craft a self-consciously ornate and mannered text succeeds in capturing the comic archness of Kracht’s prose style for English-language readers.

About Daniel Bowles

Daniel Bowles Photo: Lee Pelligrini Daniel Bowles' translations include works by Christian Kracht, Thomas Meinecke, Alexander Kluge, Rainald Goetz, and Xaver Bayer. His academic publications focus on postwar and contemporary German literature, including most recently The Ends of Satire (De Gruyter, 2015), a study of satiric writing and theory since 1950. In past years he has received support from the Fulbright Program and the German Academic Exchange Service. He currently teaches German Studies at Boston College and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


The Jury

Shelley Frisch, Princeton, NJ, Chair
Ross Benjamin, Nyack, NY
John Hargraves, New York, NY
Susan Harris, Chicago, IL
Karen Nölle, Niederkleveez, Germany