Gutekunst Prize 2018

Prize Recipient 2018

For his translation of the short story "Selbstbildnis mit Geschirrtuch" [Self-portrait with Dishtowel] from Terézia Mora's story collection Die Liebe unter Aliens [Love Among Aliens], the winner of the eighth annual Gutekunst Prize of the Friends of Goethe New York is Nick Andrews.

Die Liebe unter Aliens is Mora's second collection of short stories, published by Luchterhand in 2016.

Andrews wrote the following on his experience of translating Mora's story:

“Although there is a thread of despair and isolation throughout Mora’s story, I was impressed by the compassion demonstrated for the characters—as a reader, I was left with an underlying sense of the humor of hopelessness, a simple absurdity without ridicule.

When I began translating, I quickly realized that the narrative rhythm of the text was essential to preserving this delicate balance of disparate tones, the shift between bitter afterthoughts and nostalgic reflections on the past that become increasingly fragmented as the narrator approaches a breakdown. Colloquial language always presents a particular challenge for the translator—above all, I wanted to reflect the surprising lightness of the text, which manages to be both acerbic and naïve, and the faithful way it depicts the internal monologue of a person too lost not to laugh.”

The jury, comprised of, comprised of Tess Lewis, book critic and translator, Jeremy Davies, Editor at Farrar, Straus & Giroux, and Alta Price, translator and 2013 winner of the Gutekunst Prize of the Friends of Goethe stated:

"This year’s Gutekunst Prize of the Friends of Goethe New York contenders faced a challenge on several levels. Not only did they have to translate an entire short story, but they had to capture a distinctive first-person narrative voice that spans an emotional gamut from wry to desperate. Terézia Mora’s "Selbstbildnis mit Geschirrtuch" (“Self-Portrait with Dishtowel”)—from the collection Die Liebe Unter Aliens (“Love Among Aliens”)—is a meditation on the difficulties of finding a sense of identity between cultures and languages and within the complications of an intimate relationship. The story’s narrator is a Polish emigrant to Germany who supports herself and her partner, Felix, by cleaning houses for a fraction of a decent wage. She has an innate self-confidence and appreciation of life’s pleasures, rare as they may be, yet is ground down by the daily struggle to survive. The simple loan of a bicycle or the creative act of painting unlocks the euphoria of freedom, until her abrupt return to reality unleashes a deflation of confidence bordering on despair. Nick Andrews’ translation convincingly and forcefully captures these shifts in register, tone, and emotion. Even more impressively, he brings vividly to life the conflicted, confident, self-conscious, and self-doubting narrator in his recreation of her voice. He has a clear feel for the subtleties of both German and English, and the jury enthusiastically commends him for his fluid and nuanced rendering of Mora’s prose."   

You can read Nick Andrews's prizewinning translation here:

ABOUT NICK ANDREWS

Nick Andrews © Sixto Fernández Álvarez Nick Andrews was born in Boston. After graduating from Dartmouth College as a Senior Fellow researching contemporary German theater, he moved to Berlin, where he worked for several years as a classical pianist and freelance translator. From 2014 to 2015 he lived in Bhutan, teaching piano at the country’s only classical music school. Since then he has continued to travel extensively, climbing mountains whenever he can alongside his linguistic and musical pursuits.