Past winners

The following is a comprehensive list of past recipients of the French-American Foundation and Florence Gould Foundation Translation Prize.

31st Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

FICTION

Paul Eprile’s translation of Melville: A Novel by Jean Giono
New York Review Books

In the fall of 1849, Herman Melville traveled to London to deliver his novel White-Jacket to his publisher. On his return to America, Melville would write Moby-Dick. Melville: A Novel imagines what happened in between: the adventurous writer fleeing London for the country, wrestling with an angel, falling in love with an Irish nationalist, and, finally, meeting the angel’s challenge—to express man’s fate by writing the novel that would become his masterpiece.

Eighty years after it appeared in English, Moby-Dick was translated into French for the first time by the Provençal novelist Jean Giono and his friend Lucien Jacques. The publisher persuaded Giono to write a preface, granting him unusual latitude. The result was this literary essai, Melville: A Novel—part biography, part philosophical rumination, part romance, part unfettered fantasy. Paul Eprile’s expressive translation of this intimate homage brings the exchange full circle.

Howard Curtis’s translation of The Principle by Jérôme Ferrari
Europa Editions

Beguiled by the figure of German physicist Werner Heisenberg, who disrupted the assumptions of quantum mechanics with his notorious Uncertainty Principle, earning him the Nobel Prize in physics in 1932, a young, disenchanted philosopher attempts to right his own intellectual and emotional course and take the measure of the evil at work in the contemporary world.

In this critically acclaimed novel, Jérôme Ferrari takes stock of European culture’s failings during the 20th century and inserts their implications into a compelling vision of the contemporary world. His story is one of eternal returns, of a perpetual fall of Icarus—the inevitably compromised meeting between a man’s soul and the mysterious beauty of the world.

NONFICTION

Samuel E. Martin’s translation of Bark by Georges-Didi Huberman
MIT Press

On a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, Georges Didi-Huberman tears three pieces of bark from birch trees on the edge of the site. Looking at these pieces after his return home, he sees them as letters, a flood, a path, time, memory, flesh. The bark serves as a springboard to Didi-Huberman’s meditations on his visit, recorded in this spare, poetic, and powerful book. Bark is a personal account, drawing not on the theoretical apparatus of scholarship but on Didi-Huberman’s own history, memory, and knowledge.

The text proceeds as a series of reflections, accompanied by Didi-Huberman’s photographs of the visit. The photographs are not meant to be art—Didi-Huberman confesses that he “photographed practically everything without looking”—but approach it nevertheless. Didi-Huberman tells us that his grandparents died at Auschwitz, but his account is more universal than biographical. As he walks from place to place, he observes that in German birches are birken; Birkenau designates the meadow where the birches grow. Didi-Huberman sees and photographs the “reconstructed” execution wall; the floors of the crematorium, forgotten witnesses to killing; and the birch trees, lovely but also resembling prison bars. Taking his own photographs, he thinks of the famous photographs taken in 1944 by a member of the Sonderkommando ,the only photographic documentation of the camp before the Germans destroyed it, hoping to hide the evidence of their crimes. Didi-Huberman notices a “bizarre proliferation of white flowers on the exact spot of the cremation pits.” The dead are not departed.

Alison L. Strayer’s translation of The Years by Annie Ernaux
Seven Stories Press

The Years is a personal narrative from Annie Ernaux of the period 1941 to 2006 told through the lens of memory, impressions past and present—even projections into the future—photos, books, songs, radio, television and decades of advertising, headlines, contrasted with intimate conflicts and writing notes from six decades of diaries. Local dialect, words of the times, slogans, brands and names for the ever-proliferating objects, are given voice here. The voice we recognize as the author’s continually dissolves and re-emerges. Ernaux makes the passage of time palpable. Time itself, inexorable, narrates its own course, consigning all other narrators to anonymity. A new kind of autobiography emerges, at once subjective and impersonal, private and collective. On its 2008 publication in France, The Years came as a surprise. Though Ernaux had for years been hailed as a beloved, bestselling and award-winning author, The Years was in many ways a departure: both an intimate memoir “written” by entire generations, and a story of generations telling a very personal story. Like the generation before hers, the narrator eschews the “I” for the “we” (or “they,” or “one”) as if collective life were inextricably intertwined with a private life that in her parents’ generation ceased to exist. She writes of her parents’ generation (and could be writing of her own book): “From a common fund of hunger and fear, everything was told in the ‘we’ and impersonal pronouns.”

30th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

FICTION WINNER:

Sam Taylor

The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal // Farrar, Straus & Giroux

The Heart (2016)

About the Book

Just before dawn on a Sunday morning, three teenage boys go surfing. While driving home exhausted, the boys are involved in a fatal car accident on a deserted road. Two of the boys are wearing seat belts; one goes through the windshield. The doctors declare him brain-dead shortly after arriving at the hospital, but his heart is still beating.

The Heart takes place over the twenty-four hours surrounding the resulting heart transplant, as life is taken from a young man and given to a woman close to death. In gorgeous, ruminative prose, it examines the deepest feelings of everyone involved as they navigate decisions of life and death.

As stylistically audacious as it is emotionally explosive, The Heart mesmerized readers in France, where it has been hailed as the breakthrough work of a new literary star.

 

Read an Interview with Sam Taylor

NONFICTION WINNERS:

Jane Marie Todd

The French Resistance by Olivier Wieviorka // Harvard University Press

The French Resistance (2016)About the Book

Olivier Wieviorka presents a comprehensive history of the French Resistance, synthesizing its social, political, and military aspects to offer fresh insights into its operation. Detailing the Resistance from the inside out, he reveals not one organization but many interlocking groups often at odds over goals, methods, and leadership. He debunks lingering myths, including the idea that the Resistance sprang up in response to the exhortations of de Gaulle’s Free French government-in-exile.

The Resistance was homegrown, arising from the soil of French civil society. Resisters had to improvise in the fight against the Nazis and the collaborationist Vichy regime. They had no blueprint to follow, but resisters from all walks of life and across the political spectrum formed networks, organizing activities from printing newspapers to rescuing downed airmen to sabotage. Although the Resistance was never strong enough to fight the Germans openly, it provided the Allies invaluable intelligence, sowed havoc behind enemy lines on D-Day, and played a key role in Paris’s liberation.

Wieviorka shatters the conventional image of a united resistance with no interest in political power. But setting the record straight does not tarnish the legacy of its fighters, who braved Nazism without blinking.

 

Read an Interview with Jane Marie Todd

 

 

Lauren Elkin and Charlotte Mandell

Jean Cocteau: A Life by Claude Arnaud // Yale University Press

Jean Cocteau (2016)About the Book

Unevenly respected, easily hated, almost always suspected of being inferior to his reputation, Jean Cocteau has often been thought of as a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. In this landmark biography, Claude Arnaud thoroughly contests this characterization, as he celebrates Cocteau’s “fragile genius—a combination almost unlivable in art” but in his case so fertile.

Arnaud narrates the life of this legendary French novelist, poet, playwright, director, filmmaker, and designer who, as a young man, pretended to be a sort of a god, but who died as a humble and exhausted craftsman. His moving and compassionate account examines the nature of Cocteau’s chameleon-like genius, his romantic attachments, his controversial politics, and his intimate involvement with many of the century’s leading artistic lights, including Picasso, Proust, Hemingway, Stravinsky, and Tennessee Williams. Already published to great critical acclaim in France, Arnaud’s penetrating and deeply researched work reveals a uniquely gifted artist while offering a magnificent cultural history of the twentieth century.

 

Read an Interview with Lauren Elkin and Charlotte Mandell

 

 

29th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Birth of a Theorem

Malcolm DeBevoise for his translation of Birth of a Theorem by Cédric Villani (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

 

Les-Miserables 2015Christine Donougher for her translation of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (Penguin Classics / Penguin Random House)

 

Bonaparte (2015)Steven Rendall for his translation of Bonaparte: 1769-1802 by Patrice Gueniffey (Harvard University Press)

 

Learn more about the 29th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

28th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Dark Years (2014)David Ball for his translation of Diary of the Dark Years, 1940-1944 by Jean Guéhenno (Oxford University Press)

 

Mad and Bad (2014)Donald Nicholson-Smith for his translation of The Mad and the Bad by Jean-Patrick Manchette (New York Review Books)

 

Learn more about the 28th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

 

 

 

27th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Electrico W (2013)Adriana Hunter for her translation of Eléctrico W by Hervé Le Tellier (Other Press)

About the Book

Eléctrico W // By the celebrated Oulipo writer, this brilliant and witty novel set in Lisbon explores love, relationships, and the strange balance between literature and life. Journalist, writer, and translator Vincent Balmer moves to Lisbon to escape a failing affair.
During his first assignment there, he teams up with Antonio — a photographer who has just returned to the city after a ten-year absence — to report for a French newspaper on an infamous serial killer’s trial. Eléctrico W recounts their nine days together and the adventures that proliferate to form a constellation of successive ephemeral connections and relationships.

 

Read an Interview with Adriana Hunter

 

Falling Sky (2013)Alison Dundy and Nicholas Elliott for their translation of The Falling Sky by Davi Kopenawa and Bruce Albert (Harvard University Press)

About the book

The Falling Sky is a remarkable first-person account of the life story and cosmo-ecological thought of Davi Kopenawa, shaman and spokesman for the Yanomami of the Brazilian Amazon. Representing a people whose very existence is in jeopardy, Davi Kopenawa paints an unforgettable picture of Yanomami culture, past and present, in the heart of the rainforest — a world where ancient indigenous knowledge and shamanic traditions cope with the global geopolitics of an insatiable natural resources-extraction industry. Bruce Albert, a close friend since the 1970s, superbly captures Kopenawa’s intense, poetic voice.

 

Read an Interview with Alison Dundy

 

Learn more about the 27th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

26th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

The Metamorphosis of KinshipNora Scott for her translation of The Metamorphoses of Kinship by Maurice Godelier (Verso Books)

 

 

 

Prehistoric Times (2012)

Alyson Waters for her translation of Prehistoric Times by Eric Chevillard (Archipelago Books)

 

Learn more about the 26th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

 

 

25th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Marina Harss for her translation of The Mirador: Dreamed Memories of Irène Némirovsky by Her Daughter by Elisabeth Gille (New York Review Books)

 

 

 

 

 

 Arthur Goldhammer for his translation of  The Ancien Régime and the French Revolution by Alexis de Tocqueville (Cambridge University Press)

 

 

 

Read an interview with Arthur Goldhammer

 

Richard Howard for his translation of  When the World Spoke French by Marc Fumaroli (New York Review Books)

 

 

 

24th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Mitzi Angel for her translation of 03 by Jean-Christophe Valtat (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

 

 

 

 

 

Lydia Davis for her translation of Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (Viking/Penguin Group)

 

 

 

 

 

Frederick Brown for his translation of Letters from America by Alexis de Tocqueville (Yale University Press)

 

 

 

 

 

Jane Marie Todd for her translation of Reading and Writing in Babylon by Dominique Charpin (Harvard University Press)

Read an Interview with Jane Marie Todd

 

 23rd Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

John Cullen for his translation of Brodeck by Philippe Claudel (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday)

 

 

 

 

22nd Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Jody Gladding & Elizabeth Deshays for their translation of Small Lives by Pierre Michon (Archipelago Books)

 

 

 

 

 

Matthew Cobb & Malcolm DeBevoise for their translation of Life Explained by Michel Morange (Yale University Press/Odile Jacob)

 

21st Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Linda Coverdale for her translation of Ravel by Jean Echenoz (The New Press)

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Asher for her translation of The Curtain by Milan Kundera (HarperCollins)

 

 

 

 

20th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Sandra Smith for her translation of Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky (Alfred A. Knopf Publishers)

 

 

 

 

 

Bruce Fink for his translation of Écrits by Jaques Lacan (Norton)

 

 

 

 

19th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Daniel Weissbort for his translation of Missing Person by Patrick Modiano (David Godine)

 

 

 

 

 

Sharon Bowman for her translation of The American Enemy: the History of French Anti-Americanism by Philippe Roger (University of Chicago Press)

 

 

 

18th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Helen Marx for her translation of Silbermann by Jacques de Lacretelle (Helen Marx Books)

 

 

 

 

 

Arthur Goldhammer for his translation of Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville (The Library of America)

Read an interview with Arthur Goldhammer

 

 

 

  17th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

 

Lydia Davis for her translation of Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust (Viking Press)

 

 

 

Janet Lloyd for her translation of The Writing of Orpheus by Marcel Detienne (Johns Hopkins University Press)

 

 

16th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Jeff Fort for his translation of Aminadab by Maurice Blanchot  (University of Nebraska Press)

 

 

 

 

 

James Hogarth for his translation of The Toilers of the Sea by Victor Hugo (Modern Library)

 

 

 

 

 

Anthony Roberts for his translation of Jihad by Gilles Kepel (Harvard University Press)

 

 

 

 

 

 15th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Jordan Stump for his translation of The Jardin des Plantes by Claude Simon (Northwestern University Press)

 

 

14th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Linda Asher for her translation of The Case of Dr. Sachs by Martin Winckler (Seven Stories Press)

 

13th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Richard Howard for his translation of The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal (Random House)

 

 

 

 

 

 

12th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Madeleine Velguth for her translation of Children of Clay by Raymond Queneau (Sun & Moon Press)

 

 

 

 

 

 

11th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Linda Coverdale for her translation of Literature or Life by Jorge Semprun (Viking Penguin)

 

 

 

 

 

Barbara Wright for her translation of Here by Nathalie Sarraute (George Braziller)

 

 

 

 

 

 

10th  Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Arthur Goldhammer for his translation of Realms of Memory: The Construction of the French Past, Vol.1 by Pierre Nora (Columbia University Press)

 

 

Read an interview with Arthur Goldhammer

9th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Joachim Neugroschel for his translation of With Downcast Eyes by Tahar Ben Jelloun (Little Brown & Co.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

8th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Nina Rootes for her translation of Sky Memoirs by Blaise Cendrars (Paragon House)

 

7th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Lydia Davis for her translation of Rules of the Game I: Scratches by Michel Leiris (Paragon House)

 

 

 

 

 

 

6th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Burton Raffel for his translation of Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais (Norton)

 

 

 

 

 

5th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Arthur Goldhammer for his translation of A Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution by François Furet and Mona Ozouf (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press)

Read an interview with Arthur Goldhammer

 

 

4th Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Franklin Philip for his translation of The Statue Within by François Jacob (Basic Books)

 

 

 

 

 

3rd Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

David Bellos for his translation of Life, a User’s Manual by Georges Perec (David Godine Publishers)

 

Read an interview with David Bellos

 

2nd Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Richard Howard for his translation of William Marshal, the Flowering of Chivalry by Georges Duby (Pantheon Books)

 

 

 

 

 

 

1st Annual Translation Prize Awards Ceremony

Barbara Bray for her translation of The Writing of Stones by Roger Callois (University of Virginia Press)