Welcome to my website. I’m David McKay, and Open Book Translation is my Dutch-to-English translation business specializing in literature, academic books and articles, museum publications, and books for the general public. My clients include major museums, scholars, and publishing houses. I have been certified as a Dutch-to-English translator by the American Translators Association (ATA), and I also belong to Sense and ALTA. The Dutch Foundation for Literature, a semi-governmental organization, has approved me as a literary translator from Dutch into English. In November 2017, I was awarded the biennial Vondel Translation Prize for my translation of War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans. You can find more information about past literary projects here.
If you’re interested in my services, or have any questions, please contact me.
Selected Literary Translations
Latest News and Highlights
War and Turpentine
WINNER OF THE VONDEL TRANSLATION PRIZE, 2017
LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE INTERNATIONAL, 2017
SHORTLISTED FOR THE BEST TRANSLATED BOOK AWARD, 2017
A NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 BOOK OF THE YEAR
A LONDON TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR
AN ECONOMIST BOOK OF THE YEAR
AN IRISH TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR
NO. 1 ON THE INDEPENDENT'S LIST OF BEST TRANSLATED FICTION, 2017
"In David McKay’s dazzlingly lyrical translation from the Dutch, every detail has the heightened luminosity of a line of poetry, from the first sight of a Zeppelin (‘this dream-fish drifting silently over our heads’) to a dead horse hanging from a broken elm (‘perfectly straight, its bloody, half-severed head gruesomely twisted against the cool morning sky, its legs tangled in the remains of the tree like strange branches’). . . . War and Turpentine has all the markings of a future classic."
—Neel Mukherjee, The Guardian
"Not since reading W. G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn have I been so taken with a demonstration of the storytelling confluence of fiction and nonfiction. . . . David McKay, meanwhile, provides an artful translation of the book into English. . . . Where Hertmans’s narrative style is precise, speculative and philosophical, the manner he adopts for his grandfather’s voice is immediate, earnest and colloquial. . . . War and Turpentine delivers a blast of narrative fresh air."
—Dominic Smith, New York Times Book Review
"Crystalline memories . . . moments of unholy beauty . . . [A] fluid translation from the Dutch by David McKay . . . This serious and dignified book is old-fashioned, too, in the pleasant sense that it seems built to last."
—Dwight Garner, New York Times
"Real, raw and powerful . . . David McKay’s translation soars in the superb descriptions of battle, the lulls and the frenzied onslaughts creating lasting images."
—Eileen Battersby, Irish Times
"Staggering richness of language; brutal, deep, haunting. Mesmerising from page one, which has the painter-grandfather formally dressed complete with billowing bow tie, sitting on a Belgian beach; later a descent into the hell of World War I. If you think you’ve had enough of the muddy gore of Flanders Fields, believe me you haven’t, not until you’ve read this book."
—Simon Schama, New York Times
"Wonderful, full of astonishingly vivid moments of powerful imagery . . . moving moments of mysterious beauty. I thought I'd had enough of books about the First World War . . . I couldn't have been more wrong."
—David Mills, Sunday Times
"Beautifully translated by David McKay, the book is as poignant as it is powerful. . . . It is not often a book succeeds on so many levels, but War and Turpentine manages to be a mesmerising portrait of an artist as a young man, a significant contribution to First World War literature and a brilliant evocation of a vanished world."
"Hertmans’s prose, with a deft translation from McKay, works with the same full palette as Urbain Martien’s paintings: vivid, passionate—and in the end, life-affirming."
"David McKay’s work here is immensely readable, and comfortable in the book’s varied registers."
—Adam Rivett, The Australian
"Eloquent and persuasive . . . beautifully portrayed."
“Poignantly nuanced . . . readers will thank an exceptional novelist (and a skilled translator).”
—Booklist (Starred Review)