In 2010, the Goethe-Institut New York received a generous donation in memory of Frederick and Grace Gutekunst. A prize was created to identify outstanding young translators of German literature into English and assist them in establishing contact with the translation and publishing communities. As of 2017, the prize is supported by the Friends of Goethe New York.
For her translation of an excerpt from Rasha Khayat's novel Weil wir längst woanders sind [Because We’re Elsewhere Now], the winner of the seventh annual Gutekunst Prize of the Friends of Goethe New York is Amanda Olson.
Weil wir längst woanders sind is a debut novel about a German-Saudi man who travels to Saudi Arabia for his estranged sister‘s wedding, published by Dumont Verlag in 2016.
Olson wrote the following on her experience of translating Khayat's text:
“A few things struck me right away when reading Khayat’s novel and I relied on those first impressions to guide my decision-making as I translated. These were things I really liked about the book but they also turned out to be big challenges. It’s a quick read, for one. Not because of some driving suspense or because the material is light—it’s not. It deals with heavy experiences and emotions. But it’s conversational and reads easy, and I wanted to replicate that ease. I was also struck by the contrast in style between the narrator’s time in Saudi Arabia and his childhood flashbacks, one obvious difference being the amount of dialogue. Dialogue is hard. By drawing on my own experiences of big family gatherings and pour-your-heart-out conversations with friends, I hoped to keep Khayat’s characters relatable and authentic. At the center of this story is the experience of cultural disconnect. The differences presented were stark, yet I was left with the impression of the foreign as something familiar, a feeling I wanted to preserve.”
The jury, comprised of Shelley Frisch, translator, Tess Lewis, book critic and translator, and Michael Reynolds, editor in chief of Europa Editions, stated:
"In the estimation of this year’s jurors, one translation stood out from a host of excellent candidates for its technical proficiency, for the expertise with which the translator solved specific dilemmas and avoided certain traps, and for the translation’s overall quality. Jurors were impressed by the vivacity and tightness of the English and the accuracy with which the original German text was rendered in English. The winning translation rendered the tone of the original in a way that showed great faithfulness and yet felt natural in the target language. What most impressed the jurors, as must be the case in a prize for translators who are at the start of their careers, was the clear potential of the translator who entered the winning translation. This year’s Gutekunst Prize of the Friends of Goethe New York is awarded to Amanda Olson for her translation of an excerpt from Weil wir längst woanders sind by Rasha Khayat."
You can read Amanda Olson's prizewinning translation here:
Amanda Olson holds a BA in German and Anthropology from Pacific Lutheran University and a certificate in translation from the Bellevue College Translation & Interpretation Institute. Since 2014 she has been certified as a translator from German to English by the American Translators Association. She works as a translator for German Language Services in Seattle, WA.
for her translation of a selection from Drohnenland by Sabine Rennefanz (Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 2014)
for her translation of a selection from Eisenkinder by Sabine Rennefanz (Luchterhand, 2013)
for her translation of a selection from Gib jedem seinen eigenen Tod by Veit Heinchen (Zsolnay, 2001)
for her translation of a selection from Bugatti taucht auf by Dea Loher (Wallstein, 2012)
for his translation of a selection from Roman unserer Kindheit by Georg Klein (Rowohlt, 2010)
for his translation of a selection from Was davor geschah by Martin Mosebach (Hanser, 2010)