Vondel Translation Prize to David Colmer

2 October 2013

The Vondel Translation Prize 2013 has been awarded to David Colmer for The Misfortunates, his translation into English of De helaasheid der dingen by Dimitri Verhulst. The jury was made up of British critic Paul Binding (Times Literary Supplement) and translators Sam Garrett and Paul Vincent.

The Misfortunates was published in 2012 by Portobello Books in London, with financial support from the Flemish Literature Fund. Colmer also translated two previous books by the same author, Problemski Hotel (Problemski Hotel, 2005) and Mevrouw Verona daalt de heuvel af (Madame Verona Comes Down the Hill, 2009).

The runner-up was Ina Rilke for The Black Lake (Oeroeg) by Hella S. Haasse. Johanna W. and Johanna H. Prins received an honourable mention for Mother Number Zero (Moeder nummer nul) by Marjolijn Hof.

The Vondel Translation Prize is awarded every two years for the best book translation into English of a Dutch literary or cultural-historical work. The prize was established by the British Society of Authors and is financed by the Dutch Foundation for Literature and the Flemish Literature Fund. The winner receives the sum of €5,000.

Previous winners of the prize were: Paul Vincent (My Little War, Louis Paul Boon), Sam Garrett (Ararat, Frank Westerman), Susan Massotty (My Father’s Notebook, Kader Abdolah), Diane Webb (Colors Demonic and Divine, Herman Pleij), Sam Garrett (The Rider, Tim Krabbé), Hester Velmans (A Heart of Stone, Renate Dorrestein), Ina Rilke (The Virtuoso, Margriet de Moor and Roads to Santiago, Cees Nooteboom) and Stacey Knecht (The Great Longing, Marcel Möring).

David Colmer (b. 1960) is an Australian by birth and has lived in Amsterdam since 1992. He has previously won awards including the IMPAC Dublin Prize 2010 for The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker, the Dutch Foundation for Literature’s Translation Prize for his oeuvre as a whole (2012) and The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2013 for The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker. As well as being the translator of a large and varied body of work, with the support of the Dutch Foundation for Literature he regularly acts as a teacher and mentor to new translators through, for example, the transnational Master’s Degree in Literary Translation in Utrecht and Leuven/Antwerp, and the British Centre for Literary Translation in Norwich.

The prize will be presented on 11 February 2014 in The Army and Navy Club, St James’s Square, Piccadilly, London, along with a number of other European translator’s prizes.

An overview of translations by David Colmer can be found in the Dutch Foundation for Literature’s translations database.

David Colmer

About the Flemish Literature Fund

The Flemish Literature Fund (Vlaams Fonds voor de Letteren, VFL) is a Flemish autonomous governmental institution established on 1 January 2000. The VFL supports Dutch-language literature and the translation of literary work, in the broadest sense of the term, into and from Dutch.

About the Dutch Foundation for Literature

The Dutch Foundation for Literature invests in the quality and diversity of literature through grants and subsidies to writers, translators, publishers and festivals, and supports the distribution and promotion of literature in Dutch and Frisian at home and abroad. The Foundation came into being in 2010 as the result of a merger between the Foundation for the Production and Translation of Dutch Literature and the Dutch Foundation for Literature.

Victor Schiferli


Victor Schiferli

Specialist Dutch non-fiction and poetry

[email protected]