Vondel Translation Prize to David McKay

14 November 2017

The Vondel Translation Prize goes to David McKay for War and Turpentine, his English translation of Oorlog en terpentijn by Stefan Hertmans. The prize, worth € 5,000, will be presented in London on 1 March 2018.

The jury was made up of the British poet and critic Jane Draycott and the British literary translators Donald Gardner and Laura Watkinson. They praise the meticulous and sensitive way in which David McKay has transposed into English this eloquent and urgent novel about the First World War. ‘As a result of McKay’s beautiful translation, this Flemish author has reached the larger readership he deserves.’ War and Turpentine was published in 2016 by Harvill Secker in London, with the financial support of Flanders Literature, and by Pantheon Books in the USA and Text in Australia.

foto en covers

David Doherty receives a special mention for his translations of De Nederlandse maagd (The Dutch Maiden) by Marente de Moor and Birk (You Have Me to Love) by Jaap Robben, both published by World Editions.

David McKay was born in the United States and has lived in The Hague since 1997. As well as literature, he translates non-fiction, especially in the field of the visual arts, and academic work. Together with translator Ina Rilke he recently put the finishing touches to an English translation of Max Havelaar or the coffee auctions of the Dutch trading company by Multatuli, which will be published in 2018 by NYRB Classics in New York. He is now working on a translation of the novel De bekeerlinge by Stefan Hertmans.

The Vondel Translation Prize is a two-yearly prize for the best book translation in English of a Dutch-language work of literature or cultural history. The prize was established in 1996 by the Society of Authors in Britain and is financed by the Dutch Foundation for Literature and Flanders Literature. The prize is worth € 5,000.

Previous winners of the prize include Laura Watkinson (The Letter for the King, Tonke Dragt), Donald Gardner (In Those Days, poems by Remco Campert), David Colmer (The Misfortunates, Dimitri Verhulst) and Paul Vincent (My Little War, Louis Paul Boon).

Prizes and nominations for War and Turpentine

  • Winner, AKO Prize for Literature, the Netherlands, 2014
  • Longlisted, Man Booker Prize, United Kingdom, 2017
  • Longlisted, Best Translated Book Award, United States, 2017
  • Shortlisted, Three Percent, Best Translated Book Award, United States, 2017
  • Longlisted, International Dublin Literary Award, Ireland, 2018
  • No. 1 on the Independent’s List of Best Translated Fiction 2017
  • A London Times Book of the Year
  • An Economist Book of the Year
  • An Irish Times Book of the Year
  • A New York Times Top 10 Book of the Year

More information:

Peter Bergsma


Peter Bergsma

Director Amsterdam Translators’ House

[email protected]