Category Archives: Uncategorized

Damion Searls

MLA Roth Award, 2020

The 2020 award went to Damion Searls for his translation from the German of Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl by Uwe Johnson. Set in 1967, the book follows the lives of Gesine Cresspahl, a German émigré to Manhattan and single mother to ten-year-old Marie, dedicating a chapter for each day of the year. Damion Searls is an American translator and writer who specializes in translation from German, Norwegian, French, and Dutch. According to Parul Sehgal of The New York Times, “Searls’s superb translation inscribes Johnson’s restlessness and probing into word choice and the structures of the sentences themselves, which quiver with the anxiety to get things right, to see the world as it is.”

Arabic Literature Tour

Shahad Al Rawi & translator Luke Leafgren at Amherst College in 2019.

In fall 2019, the Roth Endowment collaborated with the UK’s Booker Prize Foundation to co-sponsor a program that embodies how translation puts international and cross-cultural exchange into action: the US tour of  a prize-winning Arabic-language author and his/er translator. The result was so successful that our board has decided to co-sponsor the program on a regular basis.

Shahad Al Rawi, the Iraqi author of The Baghdad Clock, and her translator, Luke Leafgren, toured colleges and universities in the northeastern U.S. Here they are pictured at Amherst College, where they read from the novel in both Arabic and English and discussed their experiences with writing and translation.

The Baghdad Clock won the Edinburgh First Book Award and was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. The story begins in 1991: Two young girls meet and become best friends in a Baghdad bomb shelter, where they have taken refuge from Allied aerial attacks. They share their hopes and dreams, interwoven with fantasy and illusion. A stranger arrives from the mysterious future of the city bearing prophecies, causing families to flee the city en masse, leaving it empty. When a third girl joins them, the friends begin to write a secret history of their neighborhood to save it from oblivion.

Liam Mac Com Iomaire & Tim Robinson

MLA-Roth Award, 2018

The 2018 award went to Liam Mac Com Iomaire and Tim Robinson for their translation of Máirtín Ó Cadhain’s Irish classic, Graveyard Clay / Cré na Cille: A Narrative in Ten Interludes (Yale University Press, 2016). In critical opinion and popular polls, Graveyard Clay is invariably ranked the most important prose work in modern Irish. It is a novel of black humor, reminiscent of the work of Synge and Beckett. The story unfolds entirely in dialogue as the newly dead arrive in the graveyard, bringing news of recent local happenings to those already confined in their coffins. Avalanches of gossip, backbiting, flirting, feuds, and scandal-mongering ensue, while the absurdity of human nature becomes ever clearer. This bold new translation is the shared project of two fluent speakers of the Irish of Ó Cadhain’s native region.

Esther Allen

MLA-Roth Award, Honorable Mention, 2018

Esther Allen won an honorable mention for her translation of Zama, by Antonio Di Benedetto. First published in 1956 and available in English for the first time, Zama (New York ReviewBooks, 2016) takes place in the last decade of the eighteenth century and describes the solitary, suspended existence of Don Diego de Zama, a highly placed servant of the Spanish crown who has been posted to Asunción, the capital of remote Paraguay. Eaten up by pride, lust, petty grudges, and paranoid fantasies, Don Diego does as little as he possibly can while plotting an eventual transfer to Buenos Aires, where everything about his hopeless existence will, he is confident, be miraculously transformed and made good. As Benjamin Kunkel wrote in The New Yorker: “The belated arrival of Zama in the United States raises an admittedly hyperbolic question: Can it be that the Great American Novel was written by an Argentinean? It’s hard, anyway, to think of a superior novel about the bloody life of the frontier.”

Amy Baram Reid

MLA-Roth Award, Honorable Mention, 2018

Amy Baram Reid won an honorable mention for her translation of Mount Pleasant, by Patrice Nganang. MountPleasant (Macmillan, 2017) tells the astonishing story of the birth of modern Cameroon, a place subject to the whims of the French and the Germans, yet engaged in a cultural revolution. According to Kirkus Reviews, “Cameroonian writer Nganang delivers a modern epic, tinged with liberal doses of magical realism, of life in his country’s colonial era . . . An elegantly drawn and engaging world of a sort unknown to most readers—but one they’ll be glad to have visited.” Born in Cameroon,  Nganang  is a novelist, a poet, and an essayist. His novel Temps de chien received the Prix Littéraire Marguerite Yourcenar and the Grand prix littéraire d’Afrique noire; he is also the author of La Joie de vivre and L’Invention d’un beau regard and teaches comparative literature at Stony Brook University.

Sozopol Fiction Seminar, 2018

Fellows:  Albena Todorova (BG), Genadiy Mihaylov (BG), Jo Langdon (AU), Nathan Go (US), Peter Krumov (BG), Rumen Pavlov (BG), Sacha Idell (US), Sofie Verraest (BE) and Taymoor Soomro (UK).

Radosveta Getova

Dyankov Translation Prize, 2017

Radosveta Getova was awarded first place for the Dyankov Translation Prize for her translation of the Ian McEwan’s novel The Children Act (Colibri, 2017)This book tells the story of a High Court judge who must face her own personal regrets while presiding over a legal case involving a teenage boy who refuses life-saving medical treatment. Radosveta Getova is a graduate of Sofia University, where she studied French Philosophy and English. After working for the Sofia News as a staff translator and language editor for ten years, she moved to the UK, where she currently teaches French at the University of Southampton. Other translations by Radosveta Getova include works by Amin Maalouf and Nancy Huston (from French) as well as Ian McEwan (from English). Read and interview with Radosveta Getova.

Milena Popova

Dyankov Translation Prize, 2017

Milena Popova was awarded second place for her translation of the novel The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt (Colibri, 2017), which details the scandal that ensues when a struggling female artist seeking recognition is betrayed by a man she hires to present her work as his own. Read an interview with Milena Popova.

Fulbright Legacy Lectures, 2016

Michaell Ignatieff

The sixth annual Fulbright Legacy Lectures were given by Michael Ignatieff, the former leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and the current Edward R. Murrow Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He spoke at Edinburgh University on June 6, at King’s College London on June 8 and at Pembroke College, Oxford on June 10, 2016.

Through his lectures on the European refugee crisis, Professor Ignatieff addressed the rise of a new political narrative that influences European attitudes and policies towards migrants and refugees. Since the end of the Cold War, an optimistic narrative built upon beliefs in an united Europe and the possibility for partnerships between the developing and developed worlds has reigned. However, recent developments in Europe have seen the rise of a new narrative, in which the nation is valued above international cooperation and which stresses the potential danger of outsiders. Throughout his three lecture series, Professor Ignatieff delved into this shift in narratives and explored more optimistic approaches to refugee crisis.

Jean-Yves Pellegrin


Prix Coindreau, 2016

Jean-Yves Pellegrin was awarded the Prix Coindreau for his magnificent translation of Richard Powers’ Orfeo (Orfeo, éditions Le Cherche Midi), the story of an aging avant-garde composer who becomes fascinated with microbiological patterns. Pellegrin’s exceptional translation rose to the challenge of conveying the nuances of an especially talented author, who has been the recipient of a National Book Award and the MacArthur “genius grant.”