About these Awards

Throughout her life, Lois understood the importance of language to cross‐cultural understanding and, in particular, the impact of compelling translations of literary works on international communication and exchange. She frequently served as a translator in the context of her professional capacities. As a translator, she anticipated the immense popularity in the English‐speaking world of Scandinavian crime fiction. In 1967 she published her translation of the debut mystery novel by the originators of the tradition in Sweden; Maj Sjöwall’s and Per Wahlöö’s Roseanna has remained in print in English for over four decades. Working in tandem with institutions including the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation (EKF), the Modern Language Association of America (MLA) and the American Institute of Iranian Studies (AIIS), the Roth Endowment funds four prizes for exemplary achievement in literary translation:
• from Persian into English (the Persian Translation Prize),
• from English into Bulgarian (the Dyankov Translation Prize),
• from any language into English (the MLA‐Roth Translation Award).

Between 1993 and 2016, the Roth Endowment also worked with the Société des Gens de Lettres (SDGL) to offer prizes for outstanding translations from English into French (the Prix Coindreau Translation Award).

In 2019, the Roth Endowment began collaborating with the UK’s Booker Prize Foundation to co-sponsor the US tour of a prize-winning Arabic-language author and his/her translator. The result was so successful that our board has decided to co-sponsor the program on a regular basis.

“Translation is really a very extreme form of close reading. At every minute juncture of the text, you are obliged to ask yourself: why did the writer choose this particular word and not another, why is there a shift in linguistic register or a syntactic inversion, does a cadence or word-play contribute sufficiently to meaning to require that it somehow be reproduced in translation?  Wrestling with these issues is hard work but it is also intensely pleasurable because it requires immersing yourself in the rich textures and complex structures of a great work and coming to understand how they join together to convey to us perceptions of humanity and the world we would not otherwise possess.” — Robert Alter