German Department News

New York, January 2017 – The Friedrich Ulfers Prize will be presented to Barbara Epler at the exclusive opening ceremony of NYC’s Festival Neue Literatur on March 2, 2017.

Epler is the president and publisher of New Directions Publishing Company, an independent publishing house focused on introducing contemporary international authors to a U.S. audience. Epler has long been a leading advocate for literature in translation, and has published international luminaries, such as W.G. Sebald, Roberto Bolaño, László Krasznahorkai, Robert Walser, Yoko Tawada, and Jenny Erpenbeck.

“For me, it’s a blessing to work on such marvelous books,” said Epler. “What I would like to say most of all is that I haven’t seen a better time for translation than over the last few years, what with the explosion of fantastic small publishers bringing out translated literature and big houses, too, publishing more books from all around the world. Right now we really need the news from all over the globe – and we need all the great books we can get. Art and truth trump hate and lies." The Friedrich Ulfers Prize, which is awarded annually by Deutsches Haus at NYU, is endowed with a $5,000 grant and honors a publisher, writer, critic, translator, or scholar who has championed the advancement of German-language literature in the United States. Previous recipients of the Friedrich Ulfers Prize include Burton Pike, Robert Weil, Sara Bershtel, and Carol Brown Janeway.

In a statement, Professor Friedrich Ulfers states that “Ms. Epler is part of a group of publishers who is at the forefront of reclaiming a space for German letters in this country after the catastrophes inflicted by Germany on the world during the years 1933-1945. For accomplishing this with a genuinely global passion, I am honored to recognize her as the recipient of the Friedrich Ulfers Prize.”

Susan Bernofsky, author, translator and director of the Literary Translation Program in the MFA Writing Program at Columbia University School of Arts, will give a laudation in Barbara Epler’s honor.


Barbara Epler started working at New Directions after graduating from Harvard in 1984, and is now the publisher. The writers Epler has published include W.G. Sebald, Roberto Bolaño, László Krasznahorkai, Robert Walser, Clarice Lispector, Yoko Tawada, César Aira, Inger Christensen, Franz Kafka, Yoel Hoffmann, Bei Dao, Tomas Tranströmer, Jenny Erpenbeck, Veza Canetti, Fleur Jaeggy, Raduan Nassar, Joseph Roth, Takashi Hiraide, Alexander Kluge, and Antonio Tabucchi. She has worked with some of the world’s most gifted translators and has served as a judge for the PEN/Heim Translation Fund Awards. In 2015, Poets & Writers awarded Epler their Editor’s Prize and in 2016 Words Without Borders gave her the Ottaway Award for the Promotion of International Literature.


Friedrich Ulfers is Associate Professor of German at New York University. In the past he also served as Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Science, the German Department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies, Director of the NYU in Berlin Summer Program and Director of Deutsches Haus at NYU. The recipient of NYU's Distinguished Teaching Medal and Great Teacher Award, and two-time winner of the College of Arts and Science's Golden Dozen Award for Excellence in Teaching, Ulfers has taught not only in the German Department but also in NYU's interdisciplinary programs, offering courses that engage a range of interests, including literary theory, continental philosophy, and the relationships between science, literature, and philosophy. Friedrich Ulfers is also affiliated with the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. He served there as professor of Philosophy, teaching an intensive Summer Seminar on Nietzsche and 20th/21st Century Thought and giving a variety of lectures. From 2006-2009 he was Dean of the Media and Communications Division of the School, and in 2009 he was appointed Professor Emeritus.


Festival Neue Literatur is the only U.S. festival to showcase fiction originally written in German, and will take place from March 2–5, 2017. This will be the eighth installment of Festival Neue Literatur, where New York City once again hosts six of the most important emerging and established authors from Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. This year’s festival theme is “Queer as Volk,” and the festival will focus on LGBTQ literature from the German-speaking world. All events are free of charge, though RSVPs are required.

Festival Neue Literatur (FNL) was established as a collaborative project of New York’s leading German language cultural institutions: the Austrian Cultural Forum, the Consulate General of Switzerland, the Consulate General of Germany, Deutsches Haus at Columbia University, Deutsches Haus at NYU, the German Book Office, Goethe-Institut New York, and Pro Helvetia.

Festival Neue Literatur 2017 is made possible through generous support from BMW of North America. Additional support is provided by Radeberger Gruppe.

Photo credit: New Directions Publishing