Winners Announced in German Nonfiction Translation Competition

In News by Porter Anderson

‘A fine use of language that conveyed the text’s complexity’ led jurors to their top choice in the Geisteswissenschaften International Nonfiction Translators Competition.

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Reader-Friendly Style’
Winners in the  Geisteswissenschaften International Nonfiction Translation (GINT) competition have been announced, and are receiving a total US$3,000 in prize money.

This is a competition referred to by Publishing Perspectives in October, and organized by the German Publishers & Booksellers Association (Börsenverein) and German Book Office New York.

In a prepared statement, the organizers said, “Translators in the competition were asked to choose between excerpts from two outstanding historical studies that were published in Germany.” Both of these studies are guaranteed to receive translation funding from Geisteswissenschaften International.

The excerpts were drawn from:

Close to 100 entries were evaluated by translator and head juror Shelley Frisch; Sarah Pybus, translator and winner of the first GINT competition in 2015; Paula Bradish, a staff member of the publishing house Hamburger Edition and freelance translator; and Laura Leichum of Georgetown University Press.

The Winners

Emma Rault

First prize ($1,500): Emma Rault
Her translation (PDF)

In statements of rationale on the jury’s choices, we read commentary about Rault’s work that demonstrates how relevant some of the competition texts might be to today’s social and political currents:

“In awarding the top honors to Emma Rault, the jurors found much to praise in her translation of the excerpt from Ulrich Herbert’s description of Hitler’s Machtergreifung (seizure of power) in 1933. This excerpt charts the swift process by which the National Socialists ushered in a new epoch by playing on social unrest to transform the political system.

“Rault’s entry displayed an excellent understanding of the subject matter and command of the terminology in this area of scholarship, as well as a fine use of language that conveyed the text’s complexity in a reader-friendly style.

“Moreover, the translator conducted the research needed to identify English-language references and implement academic conventions for source documentation, which made this entry stand out among all the others in its handling of the book’s academic content.”

Isabelle Chaize

Second prize ($1,000): Isabelle Chaize
Her translation (PDF)

The jury on Chaize’s work: “The second honor goes to Isabelle Chaize, who found elegant solutions and turns of phrase for many of the text’s difficult passages, and conveyed the tone admirably.”

Sharon Howe

Third prize ($500): Sharon Howe
Her translation (PDF)

And jury commentary on Howe’s effort: “The third and final honor goes to Sharon Howe, whose good grasp of the original was evident in her choice of less ‘obvious’ but fitting phrases.”

‘Finest Nonfiction Writing’

The jurors chose “entries that would best enable English-language readers to engage successfully with some of the finest nonfiction writing being published in Germany today,” according to the news release.

The difficulty of the challenge was found in the fact that the trio of “winning translators needed to demonstrate an ability to handle academic vocabulary, as well as to display a flair for language that would make these texts not just accessible to their new English-language readership, but also inviting and rewarding.”

The translation competition aims to support the goal of translation promotion pursued by the Börsenverein together with the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the German Foreign Office, and the VG Wort since 2008 through the Geisteswissenschaften International program.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. Prior to that he was Associate Editor for The FutureBook, a channel at The Bookseller focused on digital publishing. Anderson has also worked with CNN International, CNN.com, CNN USA, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media.