Professor Susan Bernofsky to Receive MLA's Lois Ruth Award

BY Zoe Contros Kearl, December 11, 2018

Headshot of Susan BernofskyAssociate Professor Susan Bernofsky is set to receive the Modern Language Association’s Lois Ruth Award for her translation of Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck, published by New Directions. Go, Went, Gone was named a 2018 New York Times Notable Book.


Founded in 1883, the Modern Language Association of America provides opportunities for its members to share their scholarly findings and teaching experiences with colleagues and to discuss trends in the academy. MLA members host an annual convention and other meetings, work with related organizations, and sustain one of the finest publishing programs in the humanities. For more than a century, members have worked to strengthen the study and teaching of language and literature. Since 1999 the MLA has offered the Lois Ruth Award for an outstanding translation into English of a book-length literary work.


Go Went Gone, translated by Susan Bernofsky“This timely novel (Go, Went, Gone) brings together a retired classics professor in Berlin and a group of African refugees. The risk of didacticism is high, but the book’s rigor and crystalline insights pay off, aesthetically and morally.” - The New York Times


Susan Bernofsky’s literary translations include eight works of fiction by the great Swiss-German modernist author Robert Walser, as well as novels and poetry by Jenny Erpenbeck, Yoko Tawada, Franz Kafka, Hermann Hesse, Uljana Wolf, and others. A Guggenheim fellow and former chair of the PEN Translation Committee, she co-edited (with Esther Allen) the Columbia University Press anthology In Translation: Translators on Their Work and What It Means. Her translation of Jenny Erpenbeck’s novel The End of Days won the 2015 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, The Schlegel-Tieck Translation Prize, the Ungar Award for Literary Translation, and the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize. Her translation of Yoko Tawada’s novel Memoirs of a Polar Bear (2016) won the inaugural Warwick Prize for Women in Translation. She is currently completing work on a biography of Robert Walser for Yale University Press and blogs about translation at


Jenny Erpenbeck was born in East Berlin in 1967. Her grandfather, grandmother, and father were all published writers in a variety of genres, while her mother was a translator. Erpenbeck’s often surreal and always enigmatic fiction has now been translated into 14 languages.