GINT - Geisteswissenschaften International Nonfiction Translators Prize

Übersetzerpreis 2016/17

The winners of the second competition of the Geisteswissenschaften International Nonfiction Translation (GINT) Prize, organized by the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers & Booksellers Association) and the German Book Office New York, have been announced. From almost 100 entries, the jury selected three prizewinners:

1st prize ($1,500): Emma Rault

2nd prize ($1,000): Isabelle Chaize

3rd prize ($500): Sharon Howe

Translators in the competition were asked to choose between excerpts from two outstanding historical studies that were published in Germanyand whose translation is guaranteed funding by the Translation Program Geisteswissenschaften International. The excerpts came from Ulrich Herbert’s Geschichte Deutschlands im 20. Jahrhundert (The History of Germany in the 20th Century) and Jakob Zollmann’s Koloniale Herrschaft und ihre Grenzen. Die Kolonialpolizei in Deutsch-Südwestafrika 1894-1915 (Colonial Rule and Its Limits: The Colonial Police in German South-West Africa, 1894-1915). Each excerpt posed a set of unique semantic, syntactic, and scholarly challenges.

The translation competition aims to support the goal of translation promotion pursued by the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers & Booksellers Association) together with the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the German Foreign Office, and the VG Wort since 2008 through the Geisteswissenschaften International program.


Shelley Frisch is the author of The Lure of the Linguistic and a distinguished translator from the German. Her translation of Reiner Stach’s monumental Kafka biography has been longlisted for the PEN Translation Prize and awarded the Modern Language Association’s Scaglione Translation Prize and the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize, and her translation of Karin Wieland’s Dietrich and Riefenstahl was named a finalist for the NBCC Awards. She co-directs translation workshops with Karen Noelle on both sides of the Atlantic. Shelley Frisch holds a Ph.D. in German literature from Princeton University.

Paula Bradish is the foreign rights manager of Hamburger Edition, publishing house of the Hamburg Institute for Social Research, and translates and edits
for both these institutions. After studying biology and Russian in Berlin, she worked in biological research and the social studies of science and taught at German and Austrian universities. She works as a freelance translator and editor in a wide range of subject areas.

Sarah Pybus has been translating from German since 2007. Since winning the GINT Prize in 2014, she has translated Crossing the Sea by Wolfgang Bauer for And Other Stories.

Laura Leichum is the Digital Publishing and Rights Manager at Georgetown University Press as well as a poet and translator. She holds an MFA in creative writing.

Rekha Rajan is a Professor of German at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, where she has been teaching German language and literature since 1975. She has translated three books from German into English including one funded by Geisteswissenschaften International: Heike Liebau: Die indischen Mitarbeiter der Tranquebarmission (1706-1845), translated as Cultural Encounters in India. The Local Co-Workers of the Tranquebar Mission. New Delhi, Social Science Press, 2013.

Chitra Harshvardhan  is a Professor at the Centre of German Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, where she teaches translation theory and simultaneous and consecutive interpretation. Her research interests include issues of globalisation, transculturation, identity and power relations in translation, as well as the analysis of translations into German of Indian literary works in terms of reception and preferred translation strategies. She is also interested in area studies with reference to Germany and the European Union. She has published articles in the above areas and has also translated and co-translated books and articles from the field of anthropology and political science.

Winning Translations

The jurors sought out entries that would best enable English-language readers to engage successfully with some of the finest nonfiction writing being published in Germany today. The winning translators needed to demonstrate an ability to handle academic vocabulary, as well as to display a flair for language that would make these texts not just accessible to their new English-language readership, but also inviting and rewarding. The three translations awarded GINT Prizes, all from Ulrich Herbert’s history of 20th-century Germany, stood out as shining examples of fine translation, and their translators are all poised to make their mark in this field.

In awarding the top honors to Emma Rault, the jurors found much to praise in her translation of the excerpt from Ulrich Herbert’s description of Hitler’s Machtergreifung (seizure of power) in 1933; this excerpt charts the swift process by which the National Socialists ushered in a new epoch by playing on social unrest to transform the political system. Rault’s entry displayed an excellent understanding of the subject matter and command of the terminology in this area of scholarship, as well as a fine use of language that conveyed the text’s complexity in a reader-friendly style. Moreover, the translator conducted the research needed to identify English-language references and implement academic conventions for source documentation, which made this entry stand out among all the others in its handling of the book’s academic content.

The second honor goes to Isabelle Chaize, who found elegant solutions and fine turns of phrase for many of the text’s difficult passages, and conveyed the tone admirably.

The third and final honor goes to Sharon Howe, whose good grasp of the original was evident in her choice of less “obvious” but fitting phrases.