Sunday, June 3, 2012

Translation awards

Until a few days ago, I'd never heard of the Tchernichovsky Prize for translation. You probably haven't either - it's an Israeli prize awarded by the Tel-Aviv municipality for "exemplary" translations, both literary and academic. In the Ha'aretz blurb on this year's award winners, the article mentions that Mifal Hapayis (the Israeli national lottery), which sponsors the significantly more prolific Sapir prize, has set aside funds for a similar translation prize to be awarded from next year and on.

This is interesting. The proportion of translated vs. original fiction in Israel is obviously nothing like that of the English speaking world. Whereas foreign literature hardly makes its way into English, Israel collects world literature comfortably and prolifically. Yet I'm still struck by the sheer amount of recognition translators get. When the majority of books published each year are works in translation, it would make sense that translators get a bit of credit. Still, sense does not necessarily translate into action (and certainly not into awards), so these awards are nonetheless surprising. And pleasing.


  1. very nice! i wish we had more translated stuff in the US. there are a few translators who are household names among avid readers, but only a very very few. it's nice to see them get recognition!

  2. I agree that it is surprising translators don't get more recognition especially when a poor translation can destroy the very facets of a work which originally made it worth reading. You might guess that I've just read a very shoddy translation from german to English that attracted my attention away from the book itself - something a translator should never do.


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