22 June 12 | Sarah Winstein-Hibbs

Congratulations to author Julian Barnes and translator Ronald Vlek, whose novel Alsof het voorbij is (The Sense of an Ending, published by Atlas Contact) just won the 2012 European Literature Prize. Initiated in 2011, the Prize selects the best Dutch translations of European literary novels to appear in the last year. For winning the award, the author receives a sum of €10,000, the translator € 2,500.

Barnes’ brief but powerful new novel is “. . . as calm as it is disturbing, as melancholy as it is comical, a novel that can be read on several levels: as a personal outpouring, an account by a man wishing to clear his name, or an assault on the power of memories. A novel that makes the reader doubt everything he thinks he knows about himself.” For Vlek’s translation, the jury expressed equal praise: “Translator Ronald Vlek not only manages to transform the narrator’s language into perfect, measured Dutch, he is remarkably successful in capturing Barnes’ undertone. He meticulously transforms the restrained, sometimes evasive sentences, the lucid images and carefully chosen words into Dutch without ever allowing them to lose any of their connotations.”

Modeled after Three Percent’s Best Translated Book Award, the European Literature Prize is sponsored by the Academic-Cultural Centre SPUI25, the Dutch Foundation for Literature, the weekly magazine De Groene Amsterdammer, and Athenaeum Booksellers. The four other shortlisted titles for the prize are as follows:

Geluk als het geluk ver te zoeken is by Wilhelm Genazino, translated from German by Gerrit Bussink (Atlas Contact)

De kaart en het gebied by Michel Houellebecq, translated from French by Martin de Haan (De Arbeiderspers)

C by Tom McCarthy, translated from English by Auke Leistra (De Bezige Bij)

De waarheid omtrent Marie by Jean-Philippe Toussaint, translated from French by Marianne Kaas (Prometheus)

Eleven independent bookshops selected books for the longlist. The professional jury then pared it down, selected the shortlist, and chose the winner.


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