The Goethe-Institut announced that Isabel Fargo Cole has been selected as the recipient of this year’s Helen Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize for her translation of Old Rendering Plant by Wolfgang Hilbig (Two Lines Press).
The prize, established in 1996, is awarded annually each spring to honor an outstanding literary translation from German into English published in the U.S. the previous year. The translator of the winning translation receives $10,000, funded by the German government. A jury of five, consisting of Shelley Frisch (chair), Bettina Abarbanell, Ross Benjamin, John Hargraves, and Susan Harris, selected Cole as the winner.
“While the text itself is brief, the challenges of rendering this Rendering are daunting,” said the jury in their statement, adding that Fargo Cole’s “superb translation rises to the myriad challenges with stylistic pyrotechnics: alliterations and assonances, wordplay of all kinds, and inventive phrasings that capture the text’s lyrical and sensual qualities.”
A PW review called Hidlig’s Old Rendering Plant a “vivid and unsettling…meditation on a landscape haunted by a horrific past.”
Fargo Cole is a U.S. born, Berlin-based writer and translator whose translations include Boys and Murderers by Hermann Ungar (Twisted Spoon Press, 2006), All the Roads Are Open by Annemarie Schwarzenbach (Seagull Books, 2011), The Jew Car by Franz Fühmann (Seagull Books, 2013), and a number of books by Wolfgang Hilbig, including the forthcoming The Tidings of the Trees (Two Lines Press) coming out June 12, 2018.In 2013, she received a PEN/Heim Translation Grant to translate Franz Fühmann’s At the Burning Abyss, and her translation of Fühmann’s The Jew Car was shortlisted for the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize.
“It’s an incredible honor, and very welcome recognition for a challenging work by a writer who has never quite found the audience he deserved,” said Fargo Cole, in a statement.
The honor will be presented to Fargo Cole on June 7, 2018 at a public award ceremony at the Goethe-Institut in New York City.