2022 Medal for Excellence in Translation shortlist

The Academy is pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2022 Medal for Excellence in Translation. The Medal is a major national award that recognises outstanding translation achievements and celebrates the vital role of translators and translation in Australian culture and scholarly discourse.


Robert Savage

Maria Theresa: The Habsburg Empress in Her Time by Barbara Stollberg-RillingerTranslated from German by Robert Savage. Princeton University Press, 2022.

Robert Savage is a translator and high school teacher living in Melbourne. His translation of Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger’s monumental biography of eighteenth-century Habsburg empress, Maria Theresa, appeared in early 2022. When originally published in German, the biography was awarded the Leipzig Book Fair Prize, the most prestigious award for non-fiction in Germany. The English translation was hailed in the Literary Review as “elegant” and “of page-turning readability”, while A. Wess Mitchell, writing in the Wall St Journal, declared: “Stollberg-Rilinger excels at both detail and grand scale, and translator Robert Savage never lets her down.”


Alex Skovron and Josef Tomáš

Elegies by Jiří Orten. Translated from Czech by Alex Skovron and Josef Tomáš. 2019.

Alex Skovron was born in Poland in 1948 and migrated to Australia, via Israel, ten years later. He is the author of seven collections of poetry, a prose novella and a book of short stories. Josef Tomáš is an engineer and poet, born in Czechoslovakia in 1933. After the Soviet occupation of his country in 1968, he emigrated to West Germany, and eventually, in 1976, to Australia. He was Professor of Mechanical Engineering at RMIT, Melbourne, from 1976 to 2010. 

Written in February–March 1941, against a backdrop of the German occupation of his country, Orten’s Elegies hold a pivotal place in the Czech literary canon and are considered by critics and readers to be among Czech poetry’s finest creations. It was the resolve of the translators that the translation should correspond as closely as possible to the original so as not only to convey the content of Orten’s vibrant, intense and powerful poetry but to honour its shifting formal design, its rhythms, and its musicality. The translators hope that their work will open Orten’s world to readers for whom the domain of the Czech language is unattainable.


Associate Professor McComas Taylor

The Viṣṇu Purāṇa: Ancient Annals of the God with Lotus Eyes. Translated from the Sanskrit by McComas Taylor. Australian National University Press, 2021.

Associate Professor McComas Taylor is Reader in Sanskrit at the Australian National University, where he has won local and national recognition for teaching and innovation. The Viṣṇu Purāṇa: Ancient Annals of the God with Lotus Eyes (ANU Press 2021) is a blank-verse rendering of a 1500-year-old ‘history of everything’ and guide to life. McComas has also published translations from Tibetan (The Clear Mirror, Snow Lion, 1996) and Chinese (My Heart is a Mirror and Life in the Cattle Yard, Cardiff, 2013). His other books include The Fall of the Indigo Jackal (SUNY 2007) and Seven Days of Nectar (OUP, 2016). 

The Medal for Excellence in Translation is generously supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund, Monash University, the University of Melbourne and the University of Western Australia.

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Acknowledgement of Country

The Australian Academy of the Humanities recognises Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of this land, and their continuous connection to country, community and culture.