Photo: Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach 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 has been administered by the Goethe-Institut New York since 2015.

Prize Recipient 2017

Charlotte Collins has been chosen to receive the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize by a jury of five for her translation of Robert Seethaler's A Whole Life (Ein ganzes Leben) published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2016. The honor will be presented to her on June 8, 2017 by the Consul General of Germany in New York.

Jury Statement

The jury for the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize takes great pleasure in awarding Charlotte Collins the 2017 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize, for her translation of Robert Seethaler’s A Whole Life. This novel, Robert Seethaler’s fifth, and the first to be translated into English, is a model of compact beauty, taking the reader from the protagonist’s bleak childhood through the trials and tribulations—and fleeting joys—of his largely solitary adulthood, in unhurried, unadorned, stirring prose. Charlotte Collins’s masterful translation of this meditative novel perfectly captures the quiet, compelling tone of the original German-language narrative of a “whole life”; her gentle yet powerful diction recreates a work that is both haunting and graceful. We are pleased to learn that Charlotte Collins is continuing to translate Robert Seethaler’s writing into English and make it accessible to an expanded international readership.


Charlotte Collins © Jaime Stewart Charlotte Collins studied English Literature at Cambridge University, and worked as an actor and radio journalist in Germany and the UK. Before becoming a literary translator. Her translation of A Whole Life was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker International Prize and the 2017 International Dublin Literary Award. She has also translated Robert Seethaler's The Tobacconist (House of Anansi, 2016), and is currently working on Benedict Wells' The End of Loneliness as well as Nino Haratischwili’s award-winning family saga The Eighth Life.

The Jury

Shelley Frisch, Princeton, NJ, Chair
Bettina Abarbanell, Potsdam, Germany
Ross Benjamin, Nyack, NY
John Hargraves, New York, NY
Susan Harris, Chicago, IL