Coronavirus Updates: Wolff Translator’s Prize Shortlist; ‘Canadian Stories’ Podcasts

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Five titles translated from German to English are up for the Wolff Translator’s Prize. And ‘I Value Canadian Stories’ examines the nature of the content.

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

Amid ‘Medical, Political, and Environmental Challenges’
Albeit without a physical event—for all the right reasons—the Goethe-Institut in New York City today (April 21) has announced its shortlist for the 2020 Helen & Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize.

Shelley Frisch

As Publishing Perspectives readers will remember, the Wolff is  an annual honor, recognizing a literary translation from German into English and produced in the United States the previous year. The program carries a US$10,000 purse. Funded by the German government, the Wolff Translator’s Prize was established in 1996.

Until 2014, the prize was administered by the Goethe-Institut Chicago. Since 2015, it’s been handled by Goethe-Institut New York.

The shortlist this year has been determined by a jury of five comprising Shelley Frisch as chair, Bettina Abarbanell, John Hargraves, Susan Harris, and Damion Searls. Harris, of course, is particularly familiar to our regular readers for her work as the editorial director at Words Without Borders.

On this shortlist for 2020:

  • Joel Agee for his translation of Robert Musil’s Agathe, or the Forgotten Sister (New York Review of Books)
  • Philip Boehm for his translation of Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon (Scribner)
  • Philip Boehm in a second shortlisting for his translation of Christine Wunnicke’s The Fox and Dr. Shimamura (New Directions)
  • David Dollenmayer for his translation of Martin Walser’s A Man in Love (Arcade Publishing)
  • Elizabeth Janik for her translation of Marie-Janine Calic’s The Great Cauldron: A History of Southeastern Europe (Harvard University Press)

In a prepared statement on behalf of the jurors, Frisch is quoted, saying, “With our planet beset by unparalleled medical, political, and environmental challenges, many of us are looking to literature more than ever as a means of moving beyond our quotidian realities.

“This shortlist features a panoply of subjects—from a sweeping regional history to a doctor tracking a medical enigma, from a fresh approach to a canonical novel to an intriguing chapter in the life of a canonical writer to a haunting portrait of an imprisoned revolutionary—all brought together here by their sparkling translations into English.”

The winner of the will be announced on May 1.

As of this writing, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center cites 14,604 deaths in New York City, of a total 42,364 deaths related to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. The Worldometers dashboard attributes 252,094 cases to New York City, of an American total caseload of 792,958 infections.


Access Copyright Co-Produces ‘I Value Canadian Stories’

Led by VoicEd Radio’s Stephen Hurley, the I Value Canadian Stories program is a series of podcast discussions with Canadian writers of children’s and YA content.

The key questions of the talks—15 of them in the program’s first season—are “What’s so Canadian about Canadian stories?” and “Why is it so important to share who we are as Canadians?”

In discussing the effort, Hurley says in a prepared comment, “When schools announced they’d be closed because of COVID-19, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to sit down with authors whose work brings such life to the classroom and connect them with the teachers who love their work. During a period of time that has seen so many things turned upside down, I hope this series is an opportunity to celebrate the power of creativity and how it brings us all together.” 

Hurley is a board member of Access Copyright in Toronto, the English-language copyright management agency, and Access has become a sponsor of the series, paying an honorarium to authors who are heard in the podcasts.

‘How It Connects the Dots’

The “I Value Canadian Stories” phrase is a brand that Access promoted along “with other members of Canada’s creator and publishing sector” during the difficult stages of the still inconclusive review of the country’s Copyright Modernization Act.

Roanie Levy

Speaking for Access Copyright, its president and CEO Roanie Levy is quoted, saying, “When Stephen approached me about Access Copyright getting involved, I leapt at the opportunity to join forces.

“When listening to it, I’m struck by how it connects the dots between the work of Canadian authors, especially those who write for children and young adults, and the value it brings to teachers and students.” 

Thirteen installments of the series have been posted so far, with two to come in the initial series. New installments post at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT).

Canada is, of course, Frankfurter Buchmesse’s guest of honor nation for 2020 (October 14 to 18) and has created this video in advance of its programming.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Wolff Translators’ Prize is here, more on publishing and book awards is here, and more from us on the Canadian market is here. More on the coronavirus pandemic is here.

Download your free copy of our Spring Magazine hereIn our Spring 2020 Magazine, Publishing Perspectives has interviewed publishers, industry experts, entrepreneurs, and authors to present a look at the book business for the coming year. 

Inside this issue of Publishing Perspectives Magazine, you’ll find articles and resources including coverage from China, Belgium, Russia, the Latin American markets, Norway, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, the international copyright community and world market data sources.

Download ‘Publishing in Times of Crisis’ free of charge 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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