The winner of the 2015 Gutekunst Prize for Young Translators has just been announced: Sophie Duvernoy, whose translation of an excerpt from Eisenkinder by Sabine Rennefanz was chosen over those of the more than 40 other translators who applied this year. (Gutekunst applicants all translate the same text, making the submissions easier to compare than is the case with prizes in which each translator works on a different text.) Honorable mention went to Jillian DeMair. The Gutekunst Prize is an annual competition for translators from German under 35 who have not yet published or been placed under contract for a book-length work. The competition, now in its fifth year, has seen ever larger numbers of applicants, making it ever more difficult to judge. This year’s jury consisted of Shelley Frisch, Tess Lewis, and Michael Reynolds. Not sure which of them wrote the jurors’ statement this year, but I liked what they had to say about the judging process:
Judging a translation prize for young translators is doubly difficult because jurors not only have to evaluate how successfully a work has been translated, how well it balances faithfulness to the source language and fluency in its target language, how expertly a translator solves the dilemmas and avoids the traps that lurk in every text, they must also evaluate the potential for future greatness that a young translator demonstrates in her translation. It’s a bit like looking at saplings to decide which will make the best banquet table 20 years from now.
Congratulations to Sophie Duvernoy for this recognition of her work! You’ll find more information about her and about the prize itself on the Goethe Institut website.