Industry Notes: Wolff Translator’s Shortlist; Cundill Submission Deadline

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As the deadline arrives for submissions to Canada’s Cundill History Prize, the Goethe-Institut names its Wolff Translator’s shortlist.

Books sold on the street last month in Udine, in the northeastern corner of Italy. Image – iStockphoto: Sergio Delle Vedove

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

Wolff Jury Chooses Shortlist of Six
Funded by the German government, the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize was established in 1996 and is managed by the Goethe-Institut New York. It’s an annual honor, recognizing a literary translation from German into English produced in the United States the previous year.

The translator of the winning title receives a purse of US$10,000.

This year’s jury for the prize includes:

  • Shelley Frisch (chair)
  • Bettina Abarbanell
  • Ross Benjamin
  • John Hargraves
  • Susan Harris

The jurors have elected this year to choose six titles for its shortlist—a larger group than usual—in recognition of what they say is an unusually strong  group of contenders.

2019 Wolff Translation Prize Shortlist

  • WC Bamberger for his translation of Hashish by Oscar A. H. Schmitz with illustrations by Alfred Kubin (Wakefield Press)
  • Margo Bettauer Dembo for her translation of The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers (New York Review Books)
  • Iain Galbraith for his translation of River by Esther Kinsky (Transit Books)
  • Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp for her translation of Farewell to the Horse by Ulrich Raulff (W.W. Norton)
  • Tim Mohr for his translation of Sand by Wolfgang Herrndorf (New York Review Books)
  • Damion Searls for his translation of Anniversaries by Uwe Johnson (New York Review Books)

The winner is to be announced on May 1, and the award will be presented at a prize ceremony at the Goethe-Institut New York on May 23.


Cundill History Prize Submissions Closing

From left, jurors for the 2019 Cundill History Prize are Alan Taylor, chair; Charlotte Gray, Robert Gerwarth, Jane Kamensky, and Rana Mitter

After an extensions this spring, the 2019 Cundill History Prize submissions period for 2019 is closing today (April 15), just as the Wolfson History Prize jury announces its shortlist. (See our story here.)

The Wolfson and Cundill are of comparative interest, each being among the richest prize programs in literature.

The Cundill History Prize is based in Canada at McGill University in Montreal, and it awards a prize of US$75,000 annually and $10,000 each to two runners-up.

The Wolfson, the older of the two programs, has a purse of £40,000 (US$52,400), with £4,000 (US$5,240) for each of six shortlisted writers, and its foundation is based in London.

Unlike the Wolfson, which is open only to residents resident in the UK during the pertinent year, the Cundill accepts books published in English without national or regional restrictions.

Both are programs that search out and recognize strong historical writing, although the Wolfson is more firmly based in scholarly channels while the Cundill has as one of its interests work that expressly speaks to a broad audience–not necessarily to the academy as its priority readership.

Jurors for the Cundill Prize this year are:

  • Alan Taylor, chair, Thomas Jefferson Foundation chair in American history, University of Virginia
  • Charlotte Gray, adjunct research professor in the department of history, Carleton University
  • Robert Gerwarth, professor of modern history at University College, Dublin
  • Jane Kamensky, the Jonathan Turnball professor of American history at Harvard
  • And, returning from last  year’s jury, Rana Mitter, director of the University of Oxford’s Univeristy China Centre

In announcing this year’s jury, Antonia Maioni, dean of arts with McGill University, is quoted, saying, “With research interests ranging from early America to modern China, from 20th-century Europe to contemporary Canada, investigating issues from political International trade and university publishers can submit to the violence, war and slavery to family, culture, and everyday life, these distinguished international historians will be judging some of the best history writing from around the world.”

Past winners of the Cundill History Prize are:

  • Maya Jasanoff (2018)
  • Daniel Beer (2017)
  • Thomas W. Laqueur (2016)
  • Susan Pedersen (2015)
  • Gary Bass (2014)
  • Anne Applebaum (2013)
  • Stephen Platt (2012)
  • Sergio Luzzatto (2011)
  • Diarmaid MacCulloch (2010)
  • Lisa Jardine (2009)
  • Stuart B. Schwartz (2008)

A shortlist is anticipated from this year’s Cundill jury in September for an announcement in New York. Finalists are to be named in October in Toronto. And a winner will be announced in November in Montreal.


More from Publishing Perspectives on publishing and book awards is here. And more of our Industry Notes series is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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