I was reading the French original, which David (I don't mean to be a name dropper, but he'll always be David to me--hell, the man owes me a letter, even!) had picked up at the Frankfurt Book Fair (I think) and passed on to me to read myself and to send out to various readers for review. As I said, I was no longer working at Godine when the translation finally came out--it's a big book, and Godine was and probably still is perennially poor, since the books cost so much to make, what with the fancy production standards, so David probably had to scrounge around for grant money. I'm sure he commissioned Bellos to do the translation, though. In my experience, few translators translate on spec; they wait for a publisher to hire them.
I'm sort of amazed Godine rings bells for you, actually. For a small press, it's well known, but many have never heard of it. It's where I got my start in the biz. I think my biggest achievement there was to work with Richard Howard when he was translating Les Fleurs du Mal (you'll find me lurking in the acknowledgments). 'Twas a proud day for the press when the book won the National Book Award.