2009 PEN Translation Prize
This year’s award goes to Natasha Wimmer for her translation from the Spanish of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).
The PEN Translation Prize is awarded to book-length translations from any language into English. The prize has been supported since 1963 in recognition of the art of the literary translator—the first American award to do so.
David Bellos, Jason Grunebaum, and Marian Schwartz
From the Judges’ Citation
“In her moving translation of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666, Natasha Wimmer perfectly matches the considerable emotional heft of this vast, many-faceted novel, now rightly seen as a milestone in world literature. With her deft, intelligent, and inspired use of English, Wimmer carries off the rare feat of giving it a completely natural, persuasive, and fluent English voice—or rather, many voices, for Bolaño creates clashing perspectives in his sprawling, encyclopedic yet tightly linked masterpiece. In 2666, Wimmer, who also brought us the fine translation of Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives, published in 2007, rivets us to 900 pages of horror, humor, and bafflement. The matter-of-fact police blotter of murders on the U.S.-Mexico border makes us all witnesses to an all-too-real tragedy and honors the humanity of its victims. When an exceptional work of literature is poised to enter the world canon, the English-reading public must express its deepest admiration and respect for the translator who not only makes the work available to us but conveys the magnitude of the author’s accomplishment.”
Jordan Stump for his translation from the French of The Waitress Was New by Dominique Fabre (Archipelago Books)
Joel Rotenberg for his translation from the German of The Post-Office Girl by Stefan Zweig (NYRB Classics).
Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky for their translation of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, R. W. Flint’s translation of The Moon and the Bonfires by Cesare Pavese, Margaret Sayers Peden’s translation of Sepharad by Antonio Muñoz Molina, Philip Gabriel for his translation of Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, and Sandra Smith for her translation of Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky.