High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands


High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands

Vondel Translation Prize to David Doherty

Vondel Translation Prize to David Doherty

David Doherty has been awarded the Vondel Translation Prize 2021 for Summer Brother, his English translation of Zomervacht by Jaap Robben. The jury praises Doherty’s talent for translating ‘the colloquial exchanges between the characters, creating an idiolect for each, with an ear akin to that of a playwright.’

The Vondel Translation Prize is a biennial award of €5,000 for the best book translation into English of a Dutch literary or cultural-historical work. This year’s jury was made up of multi-award-winning literary translators Michele Hutchison and Susan Massotty, and poet Jane Draycott.

They praised David Doherty for his translation of Zomervacht: ‘Doherty writes with a propulsive rhythm, and delicately follows all the metrical shifts in Jaap Robben’s Summer Brother, a compelling and filmic novel. Doherty’s talent shines especially brightly in the colloquial exchanges between the characters, creating an idiolect for each, with an ear akin to that of a playwright.’

David Doherty, who is of Scottish origin, studied English literature and linguistics in Glasgow before moving to Amsterdam, where he has been working as a translator since 1997. He has translated work by Alfred Birney, Marente de Moor and Hanneke Hendrix, among others, into English and is Jaap Robben’s regular translator. He also provided the English translation of Dutch sports books by Hugo Borst and Wilfried de Jong.

With Summer Brother (World Editions/De Geus), Doherty and Robben were also longlisted for the International Booker Prize 2021 last year.

Runner up

David McKay received an honourable mention for his translation of J.J. Slauerhoff’s Adrift in the Middle Kingdom (Handheld Press).

The other nominees were David Colmer for his translation of Will (Will) by Jeroen Olyslaegers (Pushkin Press), Jane Hedley-Prole for her translation of De republiek van Joost de Vries (The Republic, Other Press) and Laura Watkinson for her translation of Lampje by Annet Schaap (Lampie, Pushkin Children’s). All nominated English translations first appeared in 2019 or 2020.

Previous winners

Named after the most prominent Dutch poet and playwright of the 17th century, Joost van den Vondel, the Vondel Translation Prize was first awarded in 1996 by the British Society of Authors and is funded by the Dutch Foundation for Literature.

Previous winners include David McKay (War and Turpentine, Stefan Hertmans), Laura Watkinson (The Letter for the King, Tonke Dragt), Donald Gardner (In Those Days, poems of Remco Campert), David Colmer (The Misfortunates, Dimitri Verhulst) and Paul Vincent (My Little War, Louis Paul Boon) and Michele Hutchison (Stage Four, Sander Kollaard).

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