The Christoph Martin Wieland Translation Prize, worth € 12,000, will be presented to Eva Schweikart this autumn for her German translation of Lampje, a novel by Annet Schaap that has been published in German by Thienemann Verlag under the title Emilia und der Junge aus dem Meer. It is the first time that the biennial prize, presented since 1979 for works in a wide range of genres, has gone to the translator of a children’s book.
‘Annet Schaap’s fairy-tale, mythical novel for readers of ten and up echoes the enchanting worlds of Hans Christian Andersen, bringing together maritime themes and her young heroine’s swashbuckling self-confidence. Emilia is an inspiring character who represents humanity, tolerance and diversity.
To convey the loneliness, deprivations and apparent despair of her protagonist, the daughter of a lighthouse keeper, Annet Schaap uses a laconic, sonorous tone in Dutch that spreads out in all directions as the novel goes on, creating a multitude of voices that grow increasingly adult and assured along with the central character. The tone and atmosphere are essential qualities of the novel.
The translator saw herself faced with having to find the right voices for the whole ensemble and a way to convey the atmosphere in just as varied, adamant and concise a way in German as in the original. She has succeeded with consummate skill and audacity. Her German text is initially haunting, intense and austere, then as full of lively hope and fairy-tale magic as the Dutch original. The atmosphere is convincing and no reader will suspect this is a translation; it reads like a fine German story, told in many voices.’
Such is the verdict of the jury, composed of translators Friederike Buchinger, Andreas Jandl and Tobias Scheffel, German scholar Jutta Heinz and cultural journalist Lothar Schröder. The jury report concludes, ‘With such an impressive, supreme feat of translation the jury had no hesitation in unanimously awarding the 2019 Christoph Martin Wieland Prize for Translation to Eva Schweikart.’
Photo: copyright Roeland Fossen
Eva Schweikart is a renowned editor and translator of books including Dutch children’s and young adult literature. She has more than a hundred translations to her name, including children’s books by Sjoerd Kuyper, Paul Biegel, Kristien Dieltiens and Jan Terlouw, and fiction by Fleur Bourgonje, Philipp Snijder and Simone van der Vlugt. You can find a list of her translations in our translations database at vertalingendatabase.nl.
While working on her translation of Lampje Schweikart resided in 2017 a few weeks at the Amsterdam Translator’s House, a branch of the Dutch Foundation for Literature.
Lampje, Annet Schaap’s debut novel, published by Querido, has won virtually all the important prizes and has been or is being translated into ten languages, mostly with the support of the Dutch Foundation for Literature. The English translation (by Laura Watkinson for Pushkin Press) of this novel, Lampie and the Children of the Sea, has been selected by The Guardian for their summer reading list of ‘100 best holiday books for 2019’.
For more information, see the website of Freundeskreis zur Förderung literarischer und wissenschaftlicher Übersetzungen e.V., instigator of the Wieland Translation Prize. The € 12,000 in prize money comes from the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Arts and Sciences. The Christoph Martin Wieland Foundation will present the prize on 7 November in Biberach, where Wieland was born.
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An impressive, supreme feat of translation