I’ve been traveling too much lately to keep up with blogging – just got back from a research trip to Berlin, for example: I’ve been working on a biography of Robert Walser, who had some excellent adventures there. And I was visiting Jenny Erpenbeck just as the news came in that her book Aller Tage Abend (in English: The End of Days) had won the Europese Literatuurprijs, the top prize in Holland for a book published in Europe and translated into Dutch. The €15,000 award is split between the author (two-thirds) and the translator (one-third). So bravo to Jenny and her Dutch translator, Elly Schippers. The novel in its original German had already won the Hans Fallada Prize. And now my translation of her book has taken some prizes as well. First was the 2015 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in May, which comes with £5000 each for author and translator, plus a magnum of champagne: the prize reception is sponsored by the U.K. firm Taittinger, which makes a particularly good one, as it turns out. The reception was a boozy affair, somewhat blurry in retrospect. I was especially proud because earlier that same day the book had also been declared the winner of the “Shadow IFFP,” voted on by a group of international English-language book bloggers who read all the novels on the IFFP longlist and come to their own conclusions, which apparently tend not to coincide with those of the official jury. (Jenny is only the second female author ever to win the IFFP, by the way, after Marta Morazzoni in 2001.) Then just a couple of weeks later The End of Days was picked for the 2015 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize (a £2000 award). My head’s just whirling. And I hope you’ll forgive the bragginess of this blog post. Jenny wrote a truly wonderful novel, and I’m just thrilled to see my translation of it getting so much attention. It’s even (to get around to the actual impetus for this post) been included on the just-announced longlist for the 2015 National Translation Award (q.v.).
Back in 2011, Jenny’s previous novel, Visitation, was shortlisted for the IFFP. The award that year was taken home by Santiago Roncagliolo and Edith Grossman (nothing to complain about there, and look how appropriately happy Roncagliolo is to be translated by her). But Edie wasn’t able to make the trip to London to collect her own bottle of champagne. So yesterday I recruited her to help with mine. What can I say, it was tasty.