Words without Borders, a nonprofit and online magazine, has announced that Drenka Willen is the first recipient of the James H. Ottaway Jr. Award for the Promotion of International Literature (aka the Ottaway). Willen joined Harcourt as a translator and freelance editor in the 1960s and has been an advocate for literature in translation for close to 50 years. Among the authors and translators she has worked with are Nobel laureates Günter Grass, Octavio Paz, José Saramago, and Wisława Szymborska, as well as Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco, and Stanisław Lem. “I am thrilled that Drenka has been chosen as the first recipient of the Ottaway,” said Alane Salierno Mason, founder of Words without Borders and v-p and executive editor at W. W. Norton.
The online magazine for literature in translation, Words without Borders launched in 2003 with its first issues devoted to “Literature from ‘the Axis of Evil.’” Named in honor of the first chair of Words without Borders, James H. Ottaway Jr., the Ottaway prize recognizes an individual whose work and activism has supported the mission of Words without Borders of promoting cultural understanding through the publication and promotion of international literature. The award will be presented at Words without Borders’ Tenth Anniversary Gala on October 29.