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.

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, 2018.

The translation must have been published (not only distributed) in Canada or the US in 2017. 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 2018.

The winning translator and publishing house will be invited to the award ceremony in New York, to take place in June 2018.

Walter Schlect, Librarian
Tel  +1 212 439 8697

Prize Recipient 2017


Charlotte Collins © Jaime Stewart

Charlotte Collins

For her translation of
Robert Seethaler's Ein ganzes Leben

A Whole Life
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016

Tony Crawford © Matthias Speck

Tony Crawford

For his translation of
Navid Kermani's Zwischen Koran und Kafka

Between Quran & Kafka

Polity Books, 2016

Michael Hofmann © Barbara Hoffmeister

Michael Hofmann

For his translation of
Jakob Wassermann's Joseph Kerkhovens dritte Existenz

My Marriage

New York Review Books, 2016

Submitted Titles 2017

Walter Benjamin

Walter Benjamin
The Storyteller

Translated by Sam Dolbear, Esther Leslie, and Sebastian Turkolaski
Verso, 2016

Alina Bronsky

Alina Bronsky
Baba Dunja’s Last Love

Translated by Tim Mohr
Europa Editions, 2016


Alfred Döblin
Bright Magic

Translated by Damion Searles
New York Review Books, 2016


Michael Donhauser
Of Things

Translated by Nick Hoff and Andrew Joron
Burning Deck, 2016


Jenny Erpenbeck
The End of Day

Translated by Susan Bernofsky
New Directions, 2016


Johannes Fried

Translated by Peter Lewis
Harvard University Press, 2016


Hans Herbert Grimm

Translated by Jamie Bulloch
New York Review Books, 2016


Karoline von Günderrode
Poetic Fragments

Translated by Anna C. Ezekial
SUNY Press, 2016


Maja Haderlap
Angel of Oblivion

Translated by Tess Lewis
Archipelago Books, 2016


Peter Handke
The Moravian Night

Translated by Krishna Winston
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016


Werner and Elisabeth Heisenberg
My Dear Li

Translated by Irene Heisenberg
Yale University Press, 2016


Friedrich Herneck
Einstein At Home

Translated by Josef Eisinger
Prometheus Books, 2016


Franz Kafka
Konundrum: Selected Prose of Franz Kafka

Translated by Peter Wortsman
Archipelago Books, 2016


Navid Kermani
Between Quran & Kafka

Translated by Tony Crawford
Polity Books, 2016

Christopher Kloeble

Christopher Kloeble
Almost Everything Very Fast

Translated by Aaron Kerner
Graywolf Press, 2016


Siegfried Kracauer

Translated by Carl Skoggard
Publication Studio Hudson, 2016


Heinrich Meier
On the happiness of the Philosophic Life

Translated by Robert Berman
University of Chicago Press, 2016


Oskar Panizza
The Pig

Translated by Erik Butler
Wakefield Press, 2016


Eugen Ruge
Cabo de Gato

Translated by Anthea Bell
Graywolf Press, 2016


Paul Scheerbart
The Stairway to The Sun & Dance of the Comet

Translated by  W.C. Bamberger
Wakefield Press, 2016


Robert Seethaler
A Whole Life

Translated by Charlotte Collins
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016


Wolfgang Seibel
Persecution and Rescue

Translated by Ciaran Cronin
University of Michigan Press, 2016


Reiner Stach
Is that Kafka?

Translated by Kurt Beals
New Directions, 2016


Yoko Tawada
Memoirs of a Polar Bear

Translated by Susan Bernofsky
New Directions, 2016


Phillip Ther
Europe since 1989

Translated by Charlotte Hughes-Kreutzmiller
Princeton University Press, 2016


Fritz Trümpi
The Political Orchestra

Translated by Kenneth Kronenberg
University of Chicago Press, 2016


Robert Walser
Ghosts, Girlfriends, and other Stories

Translated by Tom Whalen with Nicole Köngeter and Annette Wiesner
New York Review Books, 2016


Jakob Wassermann
My Marriage

Translated by Michael Hofmann
New York Review Books, 2016


Peter Wohlleben
The Hidden Life of Trees

Translated by Jane Billinghurst
Greystone Books, 2016

Prize Recipient 2016

About the Prize

Year Recipients
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". Upon her husband's death in 1963, 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 at the age of 87 on March 28, 1994.