The American-Scandinavian Foundation has announced the winners of its 40th annual Translation Competition for outstanding translations of poetry, fiction, drama, or literary prose written by a Nordic author born after 1900. Two out of three prizes will be awarded this year: the Nadia Christensen Prize, which recognizes an outstanding translation of a literary text from a Nordic language into English and includes a $2,500 award and the Leif and Inger Sjöberg Prize, which recognizes distinguished effort by an individual whose literary translations from a Nordic language have not previously been published and includes a $2,000 award. All prize recipients will also have an excerpt of their translations published in Scandinavian Review (ASF’s illustrated journal) and will receive a commemorative bronze medallion.
The 2020 Nadia Christensen Prize was awarded to Jennifer Russell and Sophia Hersi Smith (Copenhagen, Denmark) for their co-translation of Alle Himlens Fugle (All the Birds in the Sky) by Danish author Rakel Haslund-Gjerrild (b. 1988). The jury found that Russell and Hersi Smith’s musical translation vividly evokes the strange beauty and tactility of the novel’s post-apocalyptic setting while also conveying the quiet longing of its observant young narrator with subtle sensitivity. They noted that this is “a translation that elegantly captures the flow and flavor of the original and which keeps the reader’s attention from opening to finish.” Ms. Russell has an MA in Critical Theory & Creative Research from Pacific Northwest College of Art and Ms. Hersi Smith has an MA in Ethnography and Documentary Filmmaking from University College London. Both Ms. Russell and Ms. Hersi Smith are currently Copenhagen-based translators.
The 2020 Leif and Inger Sjöberg Prize was awarded to Alexandra Glynn (Park Rapids, MN) for her translation of Laulu (Hymns) by Finnish author Anna-Mari Kaskinen (b. 1958). Kaskinen was one of the Finnish poets who worked together with clergy to refresh the hymns, writing new poetry to address the concerns of modern times. These poems were then included in the official hymnal of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland in 1986, which is the work Glynn translated. The jury noted that “The simple, straightforward texts flow naturally in these translations. Glynn’s English-language versions immediately lend themselves to being sung and show a skillful rendering of rhyme and rhythm.” Ms. Glynn has an MA in English from St. Cloud State University and is currently an adjunct instructor at University of Minnesota Crookston and St. Cloud State University.
The American-Scandinavian Foundation is a publicly supported American nonprofit organization that promotes firsthand intellectual and creative exchange between the United States and the five Nordic countries.