German Book Office Contest for Aspiring Translators

The German Book Office, which promotes German-language literature in New York and around the world, has teamed up with the Goethe-Institut to offer a competition for aspiring translators of all ages. “Aspiring” is defined as not having published more than one translated book (so it’s all right to have published nothing at all to date). Applicants will be invited to translate a 700-word sample from the novel Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung by 30-year-old German author Nora Bossong. All translations must be submitted by Oct. 15, at which point they will be sent to a jury comprised of GBO staff as well as a handful of younger American editors who will come up with a short list. Translations on the short list will be sent to a panel of accomplished translators who will inspect the translations and select three finalists. The work of all three finalists will be discussed at an evening panel at which the winner will be announced. All participating translators will be invited to attend, and small travel stipends will be made available to the three finalists if needed. The winning translator translator will receive a $600 honorarium to translate the first 15 pages of Bossong’s novel.

This competition is exciting for several reasons. It’s a great chance for the top contenders to get feedback on their work and meet editors and experienced translators. Since no publishing experience is required to apply, it’s a chance for talented translators with no publishing credentials to be “discovered” based on the quality of their work. And it sounds as if the final evening will be an interesting discussion of the art of translation, with both translators and editors weighing in.

Translators must be U.S.-based and should not have more than one translated book published in English. No age restrictions apply.

How to apply:
Write to Grace Moss (click here for e-mail) to be sent the German excerpt; the sooner you do this, the longer you’ll have to work on your translation, which must be received by October 15. The award ceremony/panel discussion will be held on December 12, location TBA, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

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  1. This seems like a great opportunity for document translators. I was just doing research on what kind of jobs a translator could get, and this post was the first on my list. Thanks for the information, hope you find the people you are looking for.

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