Shortlist announced for the 2020 Medal for Excellence in Translation

AAH News Academy, Media release

We are delighted to announce the shortlist for the 2020 Medal for Excellence in Translation, a major national award that recognises outstanding achievement in translation and the vital role of translators in Australian culture and scholarly discourse.

The shortlisted candidates are:

Paul Gibbard (L), Penny Hueston, Omid Tofighian with Behrouz Boochani (R)

Paul Gibbard’s translation of The Dream by Émile Zola is a major new translation of the sixteenth novel in Zola’s Rougon-Macquart series, and the first substantial critical edition. The novel marks a departure by Zola from the realism and naturalism for which he was known, as he experiments with mysticism in this tale of an orphan girl who falls in love with a nobleman.  Paul Gibbard lectures in French at the University of Western Australia. He has published on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century French literature and political thought and on the Australian travel narratives of French explorers.

Penny Hueston’s translation of Being Here: The Life of Paula Modersohn-Becker by Marie Darrieussecq is an account of the life of ground-breaking Expressionist painter Paula Modersohn-Becker. Born in Germany in 1876, Modersohn-Becker was the first female artist to paint herself not only naked but pregnant. Penny Hueston’s translations from French include novels by Emmanuelle Pagano, Patrick Modiano, Sarah Cohen-Scali and Raphaël Jerusalmy. She has translated six books by Marie Darrieussecq—All the Way, Men, Being Here: The Life of Paula Modersohn-Becker, Our Life in the Forest, The Baby, and Crossed Lines.

Omid Tofighian’s translation of No Friend but the Mountains by Behrouz Boochani is an autobiographical account of Boochani’s perilous journey to Christmas Island and his subsequent incarceration in an immigration detention facility on Manus Island. Omid Tofighian is an award-winning lecturer, researcher and community advocate, combining philosophy with interests in citizen media, popular culture, displacement and discrimination. He has published numerous book chapters and journal articles, and is the author of Myth and Philosophy in Platonic Dialogues (2016) and co-editor of ‘Refugee Filmmaking’, Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media (2019).

The applications were assessed by an Expert Panel of internationally recognised leaders in the field of translation. This year’s panel comprised Brian Nelson (Chair), Harry Aveling and 2018 recipient of the Medal for Excellence in Translation, Julie Rose.

The announcement of this year’s shortlist coincides with the UN’s International Translation Day an opportunity to pay tribute to the work of language professionals, which plays an important role in “bringing nations together, facilitating dialogue, understanding and cooperation, contributing to development and strengthening world peace and security”.

The winner of the 2020 Medal for Excellence in Translation will be announced in mid- October.

The Academy is grateful for support for the establishment of the Medal from the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund and three Australian universities – Monash University, The University of Melbourne, and The University of Western Australia – each with a particular interest in translation.