The Dutch Foundation for Literature’s 2012 Translation Prizes have been awarded to David Colmer (translator Dutch-English), Mark Leenhouts (translator Chinese-Dutch and journalist) and Mark Wildschut (translator of German philosophical work). The prizes, awarded for a translator’s oeuvre as a whole, will be presented on Friday 14 December in Amsterdam. Each of the winners receives a sum of 10,000 euro.
David Colmer (b. 1960), Australian by origin, has become one of the most versatile translators of Dutch literature into English. His extensive oeuvre, covering every literary field – fiction, poetry, and literature for children and young adults – has already won him many prizes. He recently received the prestigious Impac Dublin Prize for his translation of Gerbrand Bakker’s Boven is het stil, published as The Twin. He has created exemplary English translations of work by Hugo Claus, Adriaan van Dis, Anna Enquist, Arthur Japin, Bart Moeyaert, Ramsey Nasr, Martinus Nijhoff, Annie M.G. Schmidt and Dimitri Verhulst. Colmer is tireless in his efforts to pass on his knowledge and skills to younger colleagues by holding translation workshops. This year, as the first translator-in-residence for the Master’s in Literary Translation, he gave a series of lectures and readings at Utrecht University. Through his versatility and his qualities as a translator and educator, David Colmer has made a major contribution to the opening up of the English-language market for Dutch literature.
For more than fifteen years, Mark Leenhouts (b. 1969) has been regarded as a trailblazer for Chinese literature in translation in the Netherlands. He was responsible for the reference work Chinese literatuur van nu – Aards maar bevlogen (De Geus, 2008) and spent many years as editor at the magazine for Chinese literature Het trage vuur. He generally writes a fascinating afterword to accompany each of his translations, which include the works of both modern and classical authors. Among the highpoints of his oeuvre as a translator are Het woordenboek van Maquiao by experimental author Han Shaogong, Mijn leven als keizer by Su Tong and the first Asian literary account of homosexuality, Jongens van glas by Pai Hsien-Yung. He is currently working on two major projects: the twentieth-century classic Belegerde vesting by Qian Zhongshu, and a translation along with Anne Sytske Keijser and Slivia Marijnissen of China’s most famous novel, the multi-volume De droom van de rode kamer, written in the eighteenth century by Cao Xueqin. Leenhouts contributes reviews and interviews to Dutch daily de Volkskrant, his article on Nobel Prize-winner Mo Yan being one recent example.
Mark Wildschut (b. 1957) couples ‘great ambition with exemplary skill’, in the words of the jury. After graduating in philosophy, Wildschut made it his aim to ensure that some of the most important works of Germany nineteenth- and twentieth-century philosophy were made available in Dutch. He started out by translating Rudiger Safranski’s 1995 biography of Heidegger, published as Heidegger en zijn tijd, and followed it up with a translation of Heidegger’s complex, linguistically innovative principal work Sein und Zeit (Zijn en tijd, 1998), which was received with great acclaim. He has since translated all Safranski’s literary-philosophical biographies, as well as an impressive succession of original works by Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, Max Weber and Karl Barth. In collaboration with Michel van Nieuwstadt he produced the six-volume Nagelaten fragmenten, a collection of Nietzsche’s posthumous writings. His most recent work includes two translations of the work of Theodor Adorno (1903-1969): Zonder richtlijn: parva aesthetica and Prisma’s. Cultuurkritiek en maatschappij.
The Dutch Foundation for Literature’s Translation Prizes are presented to translators who have distinguished themselves by the quality of their work and by their efforts as ambassadors for a specific language or genre, or for literary translation in general. With these prizes the Foundation aims to highlight the important but often neglected contribution made by translators, both as creative artists and as mediators between languages, literatures and cultures. Of the three prizes, one goes to a translator of prose and/or poetry into Dutch, one to a translator of literary non-fiction into Dutch and one to a translator of Dutch literature into another language.
For more information see the website (http://www NULL.letterenfonds NULL.nl/en/entry/211/translation-prizes-go-to-david-colmer-mark-leenhouts-and-mark-wildschut).