After a 50-year Career Professor Edith Grossman is Awarded the 2019 Ottaway Award
BY Rochelle Goldstein, September 24, 2019
Adjunct Professor Edith Grossman who has brought the English-speaking world the words of Miguel de Cervantes, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa, among many others, was recently awarded the 2019 Ottaway Award for the Promotion of International Literature.
The Ottaway Prize is awarded annually by Words Without Borders, and is usually given to honor an editor and/or publisher. This year is the first time in its history it has been presented to a translator, attesting to Grossman’s stature.
Translation for Grossman is a cultural imperative for the literary art of writing itself as well as for the deeper human connection. “Translation occupies a central and prominent position in the conceptualization of a universal, enlightened civilization…,” Grossman wrote in her important book, Why Translation Matters, fostering, among other things, deep connections between writers across borders and across time, such as the bond between William Faulkner and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Grossman herself was lured into the art of translation when she first read Pablo Neruda’s Residencia en la Tierra and was awestruck by it. “…I had never read any poetry like that before and I thought: I’m going to do this,” she said in Asymptote.
Her work over a 50-year career has garnered numerous awards, including the PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Arts and Letters Award in Literature, and the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Civil Merit awarded by the King of Spain Felipe VI.