Mandy Olson, winner of the 2017 Gutekunst Prize!

We are very pleased to announce that Mandy Olson, a senior translator here at GLS, has been awarded the annual Gutekunst Prize of the Friends of Goethe New York – well done, Mandy!

Originally from Wyoming, Mandy has been working for GLS in Seattle since 2010 and completed her American Translators Association (ATA) certification in 2014. She holds a BA in German, Anthropology and Publishing & Printing Arts from Pacific Lutheran Univerity (PLU) and a certificate in German to English translation from the Translation and Interpretation Institute at Bellevue College. She spent time in Freiburg, Germany during her studies and subsequently worked as an English teacher in Salzburg, Austria as part of the Fulbright program.

Mandy’s hard work and dedication to her profession certainly paid off when she was awarded the prize in New York on June 8th for her translation of an excerpt from Rasha Khayat’s novel Weil wir längst woanders sind (Because We’re Elsewhere Now). Rasha Khayat, born in Dortmund in 1978, is a German-Saudi author and translator. Khayat’s debut novel tells the story of a German-Saudi man who travels to Saudi Arabia for his estranged sister‘s wedding and explores such themes as identity, alienation, family and cultural disconnect. Weil wir längst woanders sind was nominated for the Klaus-Michael Kühne prize for the best literary debut of 2016.


Photo of Mandy Olson with accompanying text about the award she won


For Mandy, taking part in the competition and attending the award ceremony was a positive and memorable experience:

“While I do enjoy my technical translation work, I have always hoped to one day translate literature as well. It isn’t so easy to get literary translation work, though, so when I found out about this prize, there was really no reason not to give it a go. I also entered the competition last year and, even though I didn’t win, I found the exercise of completing a sample translation worthwhile in itself.

“The ceremony was fun. It was a huge honor to receive such an award from a truly impressive jury and a rare opportunity to talk to many experienced literary translators as well as publishers and editors. They were all very kind and generous. I really enjoyed hearing Charlotte Collins speak about her experiences with translation and reading an excerpt from her brilliant translation of Robert Seethaler’s Ein ganzes Leben, for which she was awarded the Helen & Kurt Wolff Prize.”

About the Gutekunst Prize

The Gutekunst prize was created following a generous donation to the Goethe Institut New York in memory of Frederick and Grace Gutekunst. The competition, in its seventh year, allows young translators to demonstrate their talent in literary translation and helps them connect with the wider translation and publishing communities.

For more information and a link to Mandy’s prizewinning translation, please go to:

–Rachel Robertson