Greek garners Goethe prize for translation

The mood was festive at the Goethe Institute in Athens on Tuesday night, as Toula Sieti received the 2002 Greek-German Prize for Literary Translation for her work on Gunter Grass’s «Mein Jahrhundert» (My Century, Steidl Verlag, Cottingen 1999 / Odysseas Editions 1999) in the presence of German Ambassador to Athens Dr Albert Spiegel. Established in 1998 by Germany’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Book Center in Greece, the prize is awarded every year to a Greek translation of a German work or a German translation of a Greek one. The prize comes with a 2,560-euro cash award, accompanied by a four-week stay in Germany. For 2002, the prize was awarded by the National Book Center in collaboration with the European Translation Center (EKEMEL). Looking at the 14 nominations was a three-member committee of judges consisting of Vangelis Bitsioris, Thodoros Paraskevopoulos and Miltos Pechlivanos. In the end, the committee’s decision was based on two criteria: the quality of the translation on the one hand, and the literary weight of the original text on the other. Born in Athens in 1948, Sieti studied town and country planning at the Weimar Polytechnic and worked as a city planner from 1974 to 1981, when she decided to pursue a career in translating. Though focusing primarily on translations from German, she also works on translations of English and Italian texts. Sieti has translated, among others, works by Grass, Thomas Mann and William Trevor.