September 15, 2020
Translation Prize Awards Ceremony, September 10, 2020
The French-American Foundation was delighted to honor this year’s Translation Prize winners with a virtual celebration on September 10, 2020. Via Zoom, the three winners shared thoughts on their work and took questions from interested members of the public. The event was moderated by Emily Nemens, author & editor of The Paris Review.
Emmanuelle Ertel, a member of the Translation Prize jury and a Professor of French Literature and Translation at NYU, began the event by introducing Alyson Waters, the fiction winner. Alyson was recognized for her translation of A King Alone by Jean Giono, published by New York Review Books. Emmanuelle took note of Alyson’s wide-ranging career and noted the difficult nature of translating this particular work. In a subsequent conversation with Emily Nemens, Alyson discussed the texture of Giono’s writing and explained her view of the elements of a good translation.
Next, Esther Allen, another member of the jury, co-founder of the PEN World Voices Festival, and Professor of French at CUNY Graduate Center and Baruch College, introduced Michael Loriaux and Jacob Levi, who shared the nonfiction prize. Michael and Jacob were recognized for their translation of Murderous Consent: on the Accommodation of Violent Death by Marc Crépon, published by Fordham University Press. Esther highlighted the timeliness of the book for our current age and considered the book’s political questions. In conversation with Emily Nemens, Michael highlighted some of the scholarly considerations of the translation and developed Crepon’s idea of interpersonal responsibility. Jacob added to the philosophical questions posed by the book and also discussed the rewards of working with a living author.
The Translation Prize is an initiative managed by the French-American Foundation since 1986 with the generous support of the Florence Gould Foundation. Each year, the French-American Foundation convenes a jury of professionals to award a prize for the best translation from French into English in the categories of both fiction and nonfiction. The submission cycle for the 2021 awards will resume at the end of the 2020 calendar year.