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English Section

US-based translators win major Polish award

07.04.2021 08:15
US-based translators Ewa Małachowska-Pasek and Megan Thomas have been announced as the recipients of Poland’s prestigious Found in Translation award for 2021.
Polish writer Tadeusz Dołęga-Mostowicz (1898-1939).
Polish writer Tadeusz Dołęga-Mostowicz (1898-1939).Image: Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The duo received the accolade for their translation of The Career of Nicodemus Dyzma, a 1932 novel by Polish writer Tadeusz Dołęga-Mostowicz.

The book was published by Northwestern University Press in the United States in September last year.

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The Career of Nicodemus Dyzma is a biting political satire. Its eponymous hero is an unemployed clerk who—as translator Stanley Bill, an expert in Polish studies, wrote in a comment—“is a byword in Polish culture for the accidental rise of an opportunistic swindler to the heights of society and politics.”

Prof. Daniel W. Pratt of McGill University in Montreal, Canada has described the novel as “an all-too-timely tale of a boor’s rise to power, whose crudeness is understood as candor, whose ignorance is taken as wisdom, and whose ambition is unmatched.”

In his view, “Thomas and Małachowska-Pasek have masterfully conveyed the absurd humor, rollicking story, and biting critique of the original.”

Tadeusz Dołęga-Mostowicz (1898-1939) was one of the most prolific Polish writers of the pre-World War II period. His best known book The Career of Nicodemus Dyzma appeared serially in 1930 and 1931 to great acclaim. In 1980, the novel was made into a highly successful television series in Poland.

Ewa Małachowska-Pasek is a lecturer in Polish and Czech studies at the University of Michigan.

Megan Thomas is a translator whose work together with Małachowska-Pasek includes Romance of Teresa Hennert by Polish writer Zofia Nałkowska.

The Found in Translation award is the highest distinction given to translators of Polish literature abroad. It is sponsored jointly by the Polish Cultural Institutes in London and New York, the Polish Book Institute based in Kraków, southern Poland, and W.A.B. Publishers of Warsaw.

The award was launched in 2008. Its past recipients include Bill Johnston for his translation of New Poems by Tadeusz Różewicz, Antonia Lloyd-Jones (for The Last Supper by Paweł Huelle), Danuta Borchardt (for Witold Gombrowicz’s Pornography), Clare Cavanagh and Stanisław Barańczak (for Nobel Prize for Literature winner Wisława Szymborska’s volume of poetry Here), and Jennifer Croft (for Flights by Nobel Prize-winning writer Olga Tokarczuk).