Donald O. White for The Island of Second Sight by Albert Vigoleis Thelen (Overlook Press)

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. The most recent recipients are: Bill Johnston for his translation of Stone Upon Stone by Wiesław Myśliwski, 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, and Philip Gabriel for his translation of Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore.

2013 Judges

Margaret Carson, Bill Johnston, and Alex Zucker

From The Judges’ Citation

Donald O. White’s translation of Albert Vigoleis Thelen’s The Island of Second Sight is unbelievably good. The novel, written in German in 1953 yet set on the Spanish island of Mallorca in the 1930s, presents a formidable challenge to the translator: Thelen’s writing is brilliantly witty, acerbic, self-aware, multilingual and ever conscious of the spirit of Cervantes and other mighty antecedents haunting its pages. In his translation, White gives us all this and more. He demonstrates a superb flair for comic timing and a seemingly unbounded linguistic inventiveness that by turns leaves us agog with admiration and has us convulsed in laughter. This is a translator’s translation—one to demonstrate just how very agile, resourceful and utterly delectable the best translators can be. White has done us an immeasurable service in bringing into English Thelen’s forgotten masterpiece, and in doing so with such consummate and delicious mastery.


Katherine Silver for The Cardboard House by Martín Adán (New Directions)

From The Judges Citation

Katherine Silver’s extraordinary translation of Martín Adán’s The Cardboard Housea neglected 1928 masterpiece of the Latin American vanguard, arrives in English as if written yesterday. Silver ingeniously evokes the enigmatic, often-startling imagery of the twenty-year-old Adán’s poetic novel, a fractured dreamscape of wonder and longing set in a resort on the outskirts of Lima, Peru. In her illuminating preface, Silver writes that Adán’s novel “is a world unto itself.” Her delicately wrought translation, perfectly attuned to the original, summons us into this singular world with freshness and grace. It is a superb achievement.


A Long Day’s Evening by Bilge Karasu (City Lights Books), Aron Aji and Fred Stark

Near to the Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector (New Directions), Alison Entrekin

Down the Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Rosalind Harvey

The Cardboard House by Martín Adán (New Directions), Katherine Silver

The Island of Second Sight by Albert Vigoleis Thelen (Overlook Press), Donald O. White

Previous Winners

Ralph Manheim, W. S. Merwin, Max Hayward, Adrienne Foulke, Charles Wright, Charles Simic, Hiroaki Sato, Burton Watson, Richard Wilbur, Seamus Heaney, Madeline Levine, Francine Prose, Matthew Ward, John E. Woods, Peter Constantine, Michael Hofmann, Richard Sieburth, Tiina Nunnally, Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, R. W. Flint, Margaret Sayer Peden, Tim Wilkinson, Philip Gabriel, Sandra Smith, Margaret Jull Costa, Natasha Wimmer, Michael Henry Heim, Ibrahim Muhawi, and Bill Johnston