National Endowment for the Arts Supports Literary Translation With 16 Literature Fellowships
New grant guidelines increase support of English translations of world literature
August 19, 2009
Washington, DC -- The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) will award 16 literature fellowships totaling $275,000 to support projects by literary translators to translate works written in other languages into English. Available to published literary translators for specific projects, the fellowships often result in the translated writer's work being available in English for the first time. The grants are for $12,500 or $25,000 depending on the scope and merit of each project. (The amount of the awards is pending Congressional approval of the NEA's fiscal year 2010 budget.)
"How many Americans would know Milan Kundera, Yasmina Reza, or even Pablo Neruda without the work of literary translators? Literature in translation expands not only the landscape of American literature, but also our understanding and appreciation of our global neighbors," said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. "I congratulate this new class of NEA fellows, and I applaud their important work of enhancing our cultural conversation with the world."
The NEA grants will support the translation of a diverse range of texts, including short and novel-length fiction, poetry, memoir, drama, and a work of philosophy. Source materials are written in more than 10 different languages ranging from Croatian to Yiddish to French to Rovignese, a rare dialect spoken by fewer than 1,000 people.
The NEA is one of the most significant supporters of literary translation in the U.S. through individual grants to translators as well as grants to U.S. publishers to publish and promote works-in-translation. Since 1981, the NEA has awarded nearly 300 Translation Fellowships for works in 55 languages from some 65 countries.
Natasha Wimmer received an NEA grant in 2007 to support her translation of Roberto Bolaño's 2666, which went on to win the National Book Critics Circle Award. "The NEA grant that I received for Bolaño's 2666 made all the difference for me. 2666 is almost 1000 pages long, and during the two years it took me to translate it, the grant represented a significant part of my income," said Wimmer. "Without the NEA grants, translation in the United States -- already a precarious endeavor -- would suffer greatly, and American readers would be deprived of some of the contemporary classics of world literature."
The recipients of the FY 2010 NEA Translation Fellowships are:
Diane Arnson Svarlien (Lexington, KY): $12,500
Projects receiving support include Chantal Bilodeau's translation from French of plays by Côte d'Ivoire native Koffi Kwahulé, one of the most significant Franco-African dramatists working today. Eugene Ostashevsky will receive support to translate philosopher Leonid Lipavsky's Conversations, a creative dialogue between Lipavsky and early 20th-century, Russian avant-garde poets that was unavailable in Russia until the fall of the Soviet Union. A grant to Daniel Shapiro will support the translation of Missing Persons, Animals, and Artists, a short story collection by contemporary Mexican writer Roberto Ransom.
Please see complete descriptions of the funded projects.
The next deadline for literary translation fellowships is January 7, 2010. Application and guidelines information are available on the web site.
The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established, bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the nation's largest annual funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases. For more information, please visit www.arts.gov.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency