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.

Submitted Titles 2019

Charles Bovary, Country Doctor: Portrait of a Simple Man

Jean Améry
Charles Bovary, Country Doctor: Portrait of a Simple Man

Translated by Adrian Nathan West
New York Review Books, 2018

Hesse: The Wanderer and His Shadow

Gunnar Decker
Hesse: The Wanderer and His Shadow

Translated by Peter Lewis
Harvard University Press, 2018

Alone Against Gravity: Einstein in Berlin

Thomas de Padova
Alone Against Gravity: Einstein in Berlin

Translated by Michael Schwartz
Bunim & Bannigan, 2018

Berlin Alexanderplatz

Alfred Döblin
Berlin Alexanderplatz

Translated by Michael Hofmann
New York Review Books, 2018

 

The Glory of the Crucified One

Jörg Frey
The Glory of the Crucified One

Translated by Wayne Coppins & Christoph Heilig
Baylor University Press, 2018

The Birth of the Archive: A History of Knowledge

Markus Friedrich
The Birth of the Archive: A History of Knowledge

Translated by John Noël Dillon
University of Michigan Press, 2018

Sand

Wolfgang Herrndorf
Sand

Translated by Tim Mohr
New York Review Books, 2018

Anniversaries

Uwe Johnson
Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl

Translated by Damion Searls
New York Review Books, 2018
 

All for Nothing

Walter Kempowski
All for Nothing

Translated by Anthea Bell
New York Review Books, 2018
 

Wonder Beyond Belief: On Christianity

Navid Kermani
Wonder Beyond Belief: On Christianity

Translated by Tony Crawford
Polity Books, 2018

 

Stalin's Nomads: Power & Famine in Kazakhstan

Robert Kindler
Stalin's Nomads: Power & Famine in Kazakhstan

Translated by Cynthia Klohr
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018
 

River

Esther Kinsky
River

Translated by Iain Galbraith
Transit Books, 2018

 

The Server

Markus Krajewski
The Server: A Media History from the Present to the Baroque

Translated by Ilinca Iurascu
Yale University Press, 2018
 

Scardanelli

Friedrike Mayröcker
Scardanelli

Translated by Jonathan Larson
The Song Cave, 2018

 

Last Days of Theresienstadt

Eva Noack-Mosse
Last Days of Theresienstadt

Translated by Skye Doney & Bireute Ciplijauskaite
University of Wisconsin Press, 2018

 

Couchsurfing in Iran: Revealing a Hidden World

Stephan Orth
Couchsurfing in Iran: Revealing a Hidden World

Translated by Jamie McIntosh
Greystone Books, 2018

 

Papa Goose

Michael Quetting
Papa Goose: One Year, Seven Goslings, and the Flight of My Life

Translated by Jane Billinghurst
Greystone Books, 2018

 

Farewell to the Horse: A Cultural History

Ulrich Raulff
Farewell to the Horse: A Cultural History

Translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp
W.W. Norton, 2018

 

Where the Paths Do Not Go

Rainer Maria Rilke
Where the Paths Do Not Go

Translated by Burton Pike
World Poetry Books, 2018

The Tyranny of Values & Other Texts

Carl Schmitt
The Tyranny of Values & Other Texts

Translated by Samuel Garrett Zeitlin
Telos Press, 2018

 

Hashish

Oscar A. H. Schmitz
Hashish

Translated by W. C. Bamberger
Wakefield Press, 2018

 

The Arts of Cinema

Martin Seel
The Arts of Cinema

Translated by Kizer S. Walter
Cornell University Press, 2018

 

The Seventh Cross

Anna Seghers
The Seventh Cross

Translated by Margo Bettauer Dembo
New York Review Books, 2018

 

Kruso

Lutz Seiler
Kruso

Translated by Tess Lewis
Scribe, 2018

Hooligan

Phillip Winkler
Hooligan

Translated by Bradley Schmidt
Arcade Publishing, 2018

 

Guidelines for Publishers

American publishers are invited to submit six copies of a published translation from the German language into English to the following address:

Goethe-Institut New York
Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize
Attn: Walter Schlect
30 Irving Place
New York, NY 10003

The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2019. Please provide us with your contact information in the online submission form so that we may anticipate delivery of your submission and follow up with you as necessary.

The translation must have been published (not only distributed) in Canada or the US in 2018. Entries may be fiction or non-fiction and may include: novels, novellas, short stories, plays, poetry, biographies, essays and correspondences. Translators awarded the prize in the last seven years are disqualified from consideration this year.

All submitted titles will be listed on the Goethe-Institut website. A five-member jury will select a short list of 3 nominated titles in early April, with the winning translation to be announced by mid-April 2019.

The winning translator and publishing house will be invited to the award ceremony in New York, to take place in June 2019.

Contact:
Walter Schlect, Librarian
walter.schlect@goethe.de
Tel  +1 212 439 8697

About the Prize

Isabel Fargo Cole

Isabel Fargo Cole received the 2018 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize for her translation of Wolfgang Hilbig's Old Rendering Plant.

Publisher: Two Lines Press, 2017

Charlotte Collins

Charlotte Collins received the 2017 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize for her translation of Robert Seethaler's A Whole Life.

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016

Daniel Bowles

Daniel Bowles received the 2016 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize for his translation of Christian Kracht's Imperium: A Fiction of the South Seas.

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015
 

Year Recipients
2018 Isabel Fargo Cole
for Old Rendering Plant by Wolfgang Hilbig (Two Lines Press)
2017 Charlotte Collins
for A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
2016 Daniel Bowles
for Imperium: A Fiction of the South Seas by Christian Kracht (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
2015 Catherine Schelbert
for Flametti, or The Dandyism of the Poor by Hugo Ball (Wakefield Press)
2014 Shelley Frisch
for Kafka: The Years of Insight by Reiner Stach (Princeton University Press)
2013 Philip Boehm
for An Ermine in Czernopol by Gregor von Rezzori (New York Review Books)
2012 Burton Pike
for Isle of the Dead by Gerhard Meier (Dalkey Archive Press)
2011 Jean M. Snook
for The Distand Sound by Gert Jonke (Dalkey Archive Press)
2010 Ross Benjamin
for Speak, Nabokov by Michael Maar (Verso)
2009 John Hargraves
for The Executor – A Comedy of Letters by Michael Krüger (Harcourt)
2008 David Dollenmeyer
for Childhood. An Autobiographical Fragment by Moses Rosenkranz (Syracuse University Press)
2007 Peter Constantine
for The Bird is a Raven by Benjamin Lebert (Knopf)
2006 Susan Bernofsky
for The Old Child & Other Stories by Jenny Erpenbeck (New Directions)
2005 Michael Henry Heim
for Death in Venus by Thomas Mann (Ecco)
2004 Breon Mitchell
for Morenga by Uwe Timm (New Directions)
2003 Margot Bettauer Dembo
for Summerhouse, later by Judith Hermann (Ecco)
2002 Anthea Bell
for Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald (Random House)
2001 Krishna Winston
for Too Far Afield by Günter Grass (Harcourt)
2000 Michael Hofmann
for Rebellion by Joseph Roth (St. Martin's Press)
1999 Joel Agee
for Penthesilia by Heinrich von Kleist (HarperCollins)
1998 John Brownjohn
for Heroes Like Us by Thomas Brussig (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
1997 Leila Vennewitz
for Jacob the Liar by Jurek Becker (Arcade Publishing)
1996 John E. Woods
for The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann (Knopf) and Nobodaddy's Children by Arno Schmidt (Dalkey Archive Press)
 
Kurt Wolff, joined later by his wife Helen, was one of the most outstanding and innovative publishers in Germany of the 1920s. Helen and Kurt Wolff immigrated to New York in 1941, and founded Pantheon Books, a publishing house devoted mainly to the translation of German and other European literature. Herman Broch, Stefan George and Robert Musil were among the authors they published. In 1961 the couple joined the firm Harcourt Brace Jovanovich where they became co-publishers with their own imprint "Helen and Kurt Wolff Books". Kurt Wolff died on October 21, 1963. Upon her husband's death, Helen Wolff continued to work with authors on the Wolff list, expanding it to include Karl Jaspers, Walter Benjamin, Uwe Johnson, Günter Grass, Max Frisch, Jurek Becker, Hans Joachim Schädlich, and many others.

Helen Wolff was recognized for her work with an Inter Nationes Award, the Goethe-Medaille, and honorary doctorates from Mount Holyoke, Smith College and Dartmouth College. In 1994 she was awarded the Friedrich Gundolf Prize by the Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung (German Academy for Language and Literature) for her promotion of German culture in the USA, and for making German literature accessible to American readers. Helen Wolff died on March 28, 1994.