Thanks to the work of eminent translators, Polish readers have access to literature from all over the world. In appreciation of their expertise and unique contribution to the development of culture, in 2013 the city of Gdańsk founded an award granted in two categories: translation of a single work and lifetime achievement. During the 2019 “Found in Translation” festival, the Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński Translation Award of the Mayor of Gdańsk for lifetime achievement will be presented to Małgorzata Łukasiewicz, whose translations from German include the works of Jürgen Habermas, Theodor W. Adorno, Friedrich Nietzsche, and W.G. Sebald, among others. The nominees for the translation of a single work are: Tomasz Gałązka (English), Monika Muskała (German), Krystyna Rodowska (French), Elżbieta Sobolewska (Hungarian), Andrzej Sosnowski (English), Marcin Szuster (English), and Teresa Worowska (Hungarian).

The Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński Award honours translators of foreign literature into Polish. The Award is granted every two years in two categories (translation of a single work and lifetime achievement). It is presented during the “Found in Translation” Gdańsk Literary Meetings.

The Award committee, composed of Joanna Kornaś-Warwas, Piotr Paziński, Julia Różewicz, Justyna Sobolewska, Tomasz Swoboda, Ryszard Turczyn, and Anna Wasilewska (head), decided that the 2019 Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński Translation Award of the Mayor of Gdańsk for lifetime achievement will go to Małgorzata Łukasiewicz for her translations of German prose, essays and philosophical works.

“Małgorzata Łukasiewicz introduced Polish readers to such eminent authors as Hans Georg Gadamer, Jürgen Habermas, Theodor W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, Heinrich Böll, Robert Walser, Hermann Hesse, and W.G. Sebald. The books she translated were never accidental or trivial choices. She has always picked important, difficult and sophisticated texts,” says Anna Wasilewska.

On 18 February, the Award committee also selected translators shortlisted for the single translation category award, for works published between 1 December 2016 and 30 November 2018. The nominees are:

• Tomasz Gałązka for translating Ben Fountain’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk from English into Polish (Czarne publishing house);

• Monika Muskała for translating Elfriede Jelinek’s drama Rechnitz. The Exterminating Angel from German into Polish (Korporacja Ha!art publishing house);

• Krystyna Rodowska for translating Marcel Proust’s novel In Search of Lost Time. Swann’s Way from French into Polish (Officyna publishing house);

• Elżbieta Sobolewska for translating Péter Nádas’ novel Book of Memories from Hungarian into Polish (Biuro Literackie publishing house);

• Andrzej Sosnowski for translating a selection of Elisabeth Bishop’s poems Santarem from English into Polish (Biuro Literackie publishing house);

• Marcin Szuster for translating Djuna Barnes’ novel Nightwood from English into Polish (Ossolineum publishing house);

• Teresa Worowska for translating Sándor Márai’s Journal 1946–56 and Journal 1957–66 from Hungarian into Polish (“Czytelnik” publishing cooperative).

The Translation Award of the Mayor of Gdańsk, in both categories, will be presented on 12 April during a gala event accompanying the “Found in Translation” Gdańsk Literary Meetings.

The “Found in Translation” festival will take place on 11-13 April in Gdańsk, inviting the audience to a literary journey to the East. This edition of the festival will begin with a lecture by Olga Tokarczuk. Traditionally, day 1 will feature the “Writers and their translators” format: this time, the protagonist will be Andrzej Stasiuk, appearing with Margot Carlier, Renate Schmingdal and Siniša Kasumović. The following days will be packed with exciting conversations, such as: Paulina Wilk, Barbara Andrunik and Agnieszka Rayss talking to Max Cegielski about women who traverse the world on their own, and Henryk Lipszyc, eminent Orientalist and translator from Japanese, discussing his life in/with translation with Adam Lipszyc. The full programme of this year’s Gdańsk Literary Meetings will be published on 1 March on:

“Found in Translation” Gdańsk Literary Meetings 2019 | A Journey to the East, 11 – 13 April

Organized by:  City Culture Institute, City of Gdańsk

Media Patrons:  Pismo. Magazyn Opinii, Tygodnik Powszechny, Radio Gdańsk, Tró

Excerpts from the applications of shortlisted titles:

Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, transl. by Tomasz Gałązka:

Gałązka took on an enormous task of not only translating the novel, but also – perhaps ‘above all’ – of inventing (or even creating) the conditions to discover the contemporary United States in Polish. This is not your stereotypical image of the country, seemingly well-known through popular culture, but one that emerges from a critical insight and clash of languages. Gałązka’s use of the street variants of Polish – in their contemporary rather than archaic form – was absolutely spot on. He translated the language of the army and politics with precision and expertise. He also found a way to somersault over a pile of Americanisms: the language of football, Texas, erotica and military ethos.

Elfriede Jelinek, Rechnitz. The Exterminating Angel, transl. by Monika Muskała (translator’s statement):

“Elfriede Jelinek’s drama Rechnitz. The Exterminating Angel is a unique text. Written in the form of a homogeneous monologue, without a list of characters, this is in fact an epic poem, a poetic monologue, wherein the drama is implicitly embedded. The speech of the characters and internal dramatic tension had to be singled out from the linguistic magma in which they reside. The difficulty of this translation involved, among others, giving the characters a linguistic shape without infringing on the limited nature of the poem with its horizontal and vertical dialogues.”

Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time. Swann’s Way, transl. by Krystyna Rodowska (from the translator’s afterword):

“Decisions taken by a translator who embarks on a new interpretation (all translations are, ultimately, interpretations) of an eminent work from the past, even not too distant, have to take place in constant dialogue both between source and target languages and the cultural contexts, in which each of these languages is fully immersed. Given these determinants, a new translation is a genuine challenge, giving rise to a gamut of complex, even risky choices.”

Péter Nádas, Book of Memories, transl. by Elżbieta Sobolewska:

Book of Memories is a monumental, legendary novel by Péter Nádas, translated into Polish by Elżbieta Sobolewska. This remarkable work, which has already been translated into almost all European languages, is finally available to the Polish reader more than 30 years after it was originally released. For years, Nádas has been shortlisted for the Nobel Literary Prize, he is also regarded as one of the greatest innovators of contemporary Hungarian prose.

Elizabeth Bishop, Santarem, transl. by Andrzej Sosnowski:

Elizabeth Bishop’s poems translated by Andrzej Sosnowski and published in the Santarem collection are different to those first translated into Polish by Stanisław Barańczak. Sosnowski represents an entirely different school of translation and poetry, who emphasizes different planes of meaning – the context in which the American poet returns, 20 years later, is also markedly different.

Sándor Márai’s Journal, transl. by Teresa Worowska:

Teresa Worowska enters Sándor Márai’s language with palpable pleasure, paying attention to its imagery and rhythm, to skilfully show and communicate to the Polish reader the variety of his thoughts, reflections, opinions, impressions and emotions provoked by the changing reality around him; to show the fate of one man and his family as they lose their cultural and geographical homeland – Hungary and Europe; and to show the misery of a writer in emigration.

Djuna Barnes, Nightwood, transl. by Marcin Szuster (excerpt from the translator’s afterword):

“The main role in Nightwood is played by language: dense, impenetrable, lexically rich and syntactically fickle, charged with puns, obsessively polyphonic, perfidiously refined, at times hypnotic and exalted.”