National Endowment for the Arts Announces Literature Translation Fellowships
The task of the literary translator is a formidable one: to take one narrative written in a particular tongue in a particular country and make it not only accessible but familiar. To support the art of literary translation, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) will award 16 translation fellowships of $12,500 for a total of $200,000. The selected works range from classical to contemporary texts and include drama and poetry as well as prose. These projects represent literature from 14 countries from Central America to the Indian subcontinent and involve 10 different languages.
"These translation grants will bring great literature to wider audiences, inspire a broader awareness of world cultures, and support high caliber literary professionals," said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. "Under the leadership of our Literature Director Ira Silverberg, the NEA continues to support the vibrant ecosystem of literature in this country."
Fewer than five percent of all books published in the United States are works in translation, and an even smaller percentage of these books are works of fiction or poetry. To address this lack of foreign literature in the U.S., the NEA began awarding literary translation fellowships in 1981, Since then, it has been one of the most reliable sources of funding for literary translation in the country.
The NEA convened an expert group of writers, translators, and educators to review the 69 eligible applications to translate work from 26 languages into English. The 16 selected projects range from experimental theater by German playwright Dea Loher, to a portrait of India's burgeoning middle class written in Urdu, to contemporary short stories from El Salvador exploring the impact of that country’s civil war.