The Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński Translation Awards of the Mayor of Gdańsk were presented on 12 April. The lifetime achievement award went to Małgorzata Łukasiewicz, whose translations from German include works by Jürgen Habermas, Theodor W. Adorno, Friedrich Nietzsche, Herman Hesse and W.G. Sebald, among others. From the seven translators shortlisted in the single translation category, the jury selected Marcin Szuster, author of the Polish version of Djuna Barnes’ novel Nightwood. The award accompanies the “Found in Translation” Gdańsk Literary Meetings organized by the City Culture Institute.

24.05.2018 Gdansk . fot . Renata Dabrowska

The lifetime achievement award went to Małgorzata Łukasiewicz, translator and essayist specializing in translating German prose, essays and philosophical literature. 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, Patrick Süskind, Robert Walser, W.G. Sebald, Hermann Hesse, Thomas Mann and Joseph Roth. She is one of the most recognizable authors of Polish literature on translation and winner of many awards granted, among others, by Pro-Helvetia, Bosch Foundation, PEN-Club, Literatura na Świecie, Zeszyty Literackie as well as the Polish-German literary translation award.

 “The translator approaches the source text like a musical score of sorts, which the performer has to interpret in his or her own manner. Throughout her struggles with works by other authors, Małgorzata Łukasiewicz has always respected not only the given literary conventions, but the distinct language employed by individual writers, making sure to bring out all flavours, preserve all ambiguities, adjust the tone and give sentences their proper rhythm. In a nutshell: to create a Polish equivalent of someone else’s imagination, world and manner of imaging. (…)To write someone else’s book in her own language. And do it all with passion. For it ought to be added here that literature is Małgorzata’s passion: not only does she translate it, but she also writes about it, and about the essence of translation. Allow me quote her again: ‘there is no better occupation in life than to play around in the huge sandbox of language’”, said the head of the Award Committee, Anna Wasilewska, in her laudatory speech.

24.05.2018 Gdansk . fot . Renata Dabrowska

The single translation award was granted to Marcin Szuster for his brilliant translation of Djuna Barnes’ modernist novel Nightwood from English into Polish.

 “The novel was first published in 1936; its plot being little more than a pretext for the author’s unbridled linguistic imagination. Lexical wealth, fickle syntax, sudden shifts between various types of discourse and risqué metaphors, bordering on conscious pretentiousness, place this novel within the poetics of camp. These elements, as well as playing with literary conventions, allusions to classics and contemporary avant-garde writers, such as Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, posed a huge challenge for the translator”, said Justyna Sobolewska, member of the Award Committee, about the translator’s skill.

 “Marcin Szuster, who has already translated such authors as James Schuyler, William Burroughs, Bob Dylan, Paul de Man and Harold Bloom, created a new kind of language for Djuna Barnes: one that is thrown off the beaten track of banalities, that boldly tackles extravagant linguistic associations, vivid monologues and enters in a creative debate with the Polish tradition of translating literature from the English-speaking world”, added Sobolewska in her laudatory speech.

The 2018–19 Award committee was composed of: Joanna Kornaś-Warwas, Piotr Paziński, Julia Różewicz, Justyna Sobolewska, Tomasz Swoboda, Ryszard Turczyn and Anna Wasilewska (head).

A total of 34 candidates were put forward for the lifetime achievement award and 99 translators for the translation of a single work.

The Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński Translation Award of the Mayor of Gdańsk is presented during Gdańsk Literary Meetings organized by the City Culture Institute. The fourth edition of the event took place on 11-13 April in Gdańsk, inviting the audience to a literary journey to the East. The full programme of meetings is listed on

The shortlisted translators included:

  • 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 (published as part of Między placem bohaterów a Rechnitz. Austriackie rozliczenia by Korporacja Ha!art);
  • 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).

 “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