13 November 12 | Chad W. Post | Comments

It’s that time of year again, when translators can apply for a number of residencies and grants, like the one at the Ledig House (deadline passed, sorry), the PEN Translation Fund (deadline of February 1, 2013), NEA Translation Fellowships (deadline of January 3, 2013), and the Banff International Literary Translation Centre (deadline of February 15, 2013).

I’ve personally never been to Banff (when are you going to start a publisher fellowship program? we deserve a little bit of love, don’t we? please?), but from what I’ve heard, it’s absolutely incredible. It’s a three-week program (taking place from June 3-22, 2013) and provides the perfect setting for translators to work on their projects.

The 15 literary translators who participate in the program each year are from one of the three founding countries – Canada, Mexico, and the United States – translating from any language, as well as from any other country translating literature from the Americas (both the North and South American continents). Each year the program strives to include translators who are at different stages of their careers, from those with only one book-length published translation to veterans who have been translating as a primary professional activity for many years. Since the inaugural program in 2003, the Centre has hosted translators from approximately 30 countries translating work involving nearly 40 languages.

Translators may request a joint residency of up to one week with the author they are translating. Most guest authors come from Canada, the United States, and Mexico, but the program is sometimes able to bring authors from farther afield. Individual work sessions with the consulting translators serving in residence, as well as with the program directors, are also available. Participants meet three times a week for roundtables and presentations, and to discuss work in progress as well as broader issues in the practice of literary translation.

Here’s all the information you need to apply. And if you’re a student, you should keep this in mind:

Each year BILTC accepts one student from each of the following countries: the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Students wishing to apply need not fulfill the publication requirement (see above). Students from Mexico and Canada must apply through their universities. Students from the United States may apply directly to the program.

25 July 12 | Chad W. Post | Comments

The NEA announced the recipients of this year’s translation fellowships yesterday, and, as always, there’s a number of interesting projects being supported. You can read about all of them here, and listed below are some of the ones that caught my eye:

Daniel Brunet
Central Square, NY

To support the translation of experimental plays by German playwright Dea Loher. The writer and producer of 20 plays, Loher’s subject matter ranges from small-town life to international events as she explores themes of race, love, violence, and family. Though Loher is one of Germany’s most celebrated playwrights with plays translated into 27 languages, her work is virtually unknown in the United States.

Christian Hawkey
Brooklyn, NY

To support the translation of Austrian writer Ilse Aichinger’s collection of short fiction, Bad Words. In these 22 prose pieces, normative reality is taken apart and reconstructed to create a language that uses only the “second best words,” as the title proclaims. Linguistically experimental and thematically absurd, Aichinger’s body of work has garnered more than 20 literary prizes and is vastly underrepresented in English. This translation will be the first to focus on her work from the 1960s.

Sylvia Lichun Lin
Boulder, CO

To support the translation from Chinese of The Lost Garden, a novel by Taiwanese author Li Ang. Exploring the interconnected themes of politics and gender, the novel chronicles a Taiwanese gentry family from the early days of the Nationalist government’s rule under Chiang Kai-shek to the present. Published in 1990, only three years after the lifting of martial law, The Lost Garden was the first novel to successfully portray a fictional account of the White Terror Era. Ang is considered one of the most prolific, daring, and innovative writers in the contemporary Chinese-language literary community.

Matthew Reeck
Brooklyn, NY

To support a new translation from Urdu of Paigham Afaqui’s first novel, The House. Since its publication in 1989, Afaqui’s account of a young female landlord, Neera, and her predatory tenant, Kumar, has been a staple on reading lists in schools and universities across India. Literature in Urdu is particularly patriarchal, and Neera’s story draws a sharp contrast to that tradition and to the stereotypical roles placed on women in Indian society. In addition to writing and founding the Indian Academy of fiction, Afaqui is deputy commissioner of the Delhi Police.

Katherine Silver
Berkeley, CA

To support the translation from Spanish of three works of contemporary fiction by Daniel Sada. Born in Mexico in 1953, Sada died in the fall of 2011 only hours after being awarded Mexico’s most prestigious literary honor, the National Prize for Arts and Sciences for Literature. His writing is infused with a passion for experimental storytelling, but the most pervasive theme in his work is language itself, specifically the viability and limitations of the Spanish language in contemporary Mexican culture.

Johanna Warren
Hudson, NY

To support the translation from Spanish of short fiction by contemporary Salvadoran author Claudia Hernández. These four short story collections, published from 2001-07, explore the brutal impact of El Salvador’s 12-year civil war and focus indirectly on the themes of displacement, desensitization, and fear. Garnering international praise, Hernández was the first Central American artist to win the Juan Rulfo Prize for short stories. In 2004, she was awarded the prestigious Anna Seghers prize, an annual award given to young authors in Germany and Latin America.

Charles Waugh
Logan, UT

To support the translation of an anthology of short fiction by young Vietnamese writers, New Voices from Vietnam. All 19 authors included in this project are under the age of 35, and their work represents a culture and aesthetic that differs radically from previous generations of Vietnamese writers, reflecting stories from a vibrant culture racing through changes wrought by rapid modernization and globalization. There is a lack of contemporary Vietnamese prose represented in English, and this project offers an unprecedented collection.

Congrats to everyone!

21 July 11 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Continuing in our day of prize announcements, this morning the NEA released info on this year’s Translation Fellowships. The NEA awarded $200,000 in grant money to 16 translators—many of whom I know personally—for a wide range of projects.

This is always one of the most exciting announcements of the granting season [sic—I don’t know if two awards constitute a “season” but still] for me, since it’s exciting to see so many excellent translators and good friends receive these rather generous awards (recipients receive either $12,500 or $25,000), and there’s always at least 3 or 4 projects that I’d like to publish, or at least read.

Here’s the full list of winners and descriptions of their projects. Bios of the translators can be found here.

  • Eric Abrahamsen. To support the translation of Running Through Zhongguancun by the contemporary Chinese novelist Xu Zechen. This novel’s style is sparse and direct, representing a divergence from traditional Chinese literature. The novel tells the story of a poor boy trying to make it in Beijing by selling pirated DVDs and fake IDs.
  • Ross Benjamin. To support the translation of the German novel The Frequencies by Clemens J. Setz. This 716-page novel was shortlisted for the 2009 German Book Prize and won the 2010 Bremen Literature Prize. It examines the crisscrossing paths of a group of characters and explores how seemingly small collisions of everyday lives can have rippling consequences. Setz draws from his experience, not only as a writer, but as a jazz pianist, overtone singer, mathematician, and magician.
  • Lisa Rose Bradford. To support the translation of the Argentine poet Juan Gelman’s Oxen Rage. Gelman is arguably Argentina’s foremost contemporary poet. His Oxen Rage has never been translated in its entirety into English. In this innovative book, the author shifts his own style from traditional free verse and direct social commentary to wordplay, unorthodox grammar, and rhythmic amalgamations. Gelman published more than 20 books of poetry from 1956-2009. He has received numerous awards including the most prestigious Spanish-language literary award, the Cervantes Prize (2007).
  • Geoffrey Brock. To support the translation of the selected poems of Italian poet Giovanni Pascoli. Pascoli (1855-1912) produced a major body of work that influenced modern Italian poetry. His poetry has been revered, studied, and enjoyed in Italy, but has been neglected in English translation. At Pascoli’s best, the applicant asserts that he has a “quiet, plain-spoken style” that is a refreshing change from the “grandiosity” of his contemporaries.
  • Peter Constantine. To support the translation from Russian of stories and vignettes from Anton Chekhov’s early period (1880-85). Much of Chekhov’s early work still remains largely unavailable to an English-language readership. This project focuses on the prolific body of work produced by the time Chekhov reached his mid-twenties that led to him receiving the prestigious Pushkin Prize in 1887. The pieces are all comical, ranging from traditional narratives to innovative forms, such as classified ads, telegrams, and lawyers’ depositions.
  • Kristin Dykstra. To support the translation of Catch and Release by Cuban poet Reina María Rodríguez. Published in 2006, this collection of poems won the prestigious Cuban National Critics’ prize. Rodríguez is consistently recognized as a major international poet and one of the most significant writers on the island today. Catch and Release is a mix of meditations on relationships and home. To quote the applicant, she “blurs intimate experience into social expertise, achieving a result that is not adequately categorized as either ‘private’ or ‘public’ poetry yet undeniably partakes of both.”
  • Michelle Gil-Montero. To support the translation of The Annunciation by Argentinian novelist María Negroni. Published in 2008, this novel is imaginative and structurally innovative and explores the atmosphere of Argentina during the Dirty War. The Annunciation emphasizes structure over plot. Negroni resists narrative traditions like chronology and instead conjures a sense of “ubiquitous time,” while freely traversing narrative styles as diverse as memory, history, and fantasy. This will be the first translation of The Annunciation into English.
  • David Hinton. To support the translation from Chinese of the selected poems of Mei Yao-ch’en. Considered one of the most important poets in the Chinese tradition, Yao-ch’en (1002-60 C.E.) produced a corpus of 2,800 poems during the Sung Dynasty. This book is the 12th volume in Hinton’s pursuit to translate China’s major classical poets. Yao-ch’en’s work is not readily available to an English readership. The only translation was published more than 30 years ago and is out-of-print.
  • William Maynard Hutchins. To support the translation of the Arabic novel New Waw by Ibrahim al-Koni. Born in Libya in 1948 and educated in Moscow, al-Koni now lives in Switzerland. He has published more than 70 volumes of work and won several international literary awards, including the Egyptian State Prize for the Arabic Novel (2010) and the Sheikh Zayed Award for Literature (2008). New Waw is the first volume of a trilogy, each novel following the founding, flourishing, and downfall of a Saharan nomadic tribe.
  • Pierre Joris. To support the translation from German of The Complete Later Poetry of Paul Celan. Celan is widely regarded as among this century’s major German poets. Only Rilke can be considered as famous and influential on German and world poetry. This project aspires to include, in one 640-page book, two posthumously published volumes, a range of uncollected poems, and re-translations of the first three volumes of Celan’s later poetry, which are currently out-of-print.
  • Karen Kovacik. To support the translation of In What World: Selected Poems by Polish writer Agnieszka Kuciak. An accomplished poet and translator, Kuciak is the author of the first Polish translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy in more than a half century. An inventive and original young voice in Polish poetry, Kuciak’s poetry is far removed from World War II and the communist era. Her Poland is marked by buying and selling, global Internet culture, and a Catholic hierarchy bent on preserving its influence. No book-length translations of Kuciak’s poetry have yet appeared in English.
  • Brandon Lussier. To support the translation of a collection of new and selected poems by Estonian poet Hasso Krull. Since Estonia regained independence in 1991, Krull has emerged as an important writer and intellectual, publishing 10 volumes of poetry, as well as collections of criticism and scholarship on Estonian mythology. Krull has earned some of the most prestigious writing awards in Estonia, including a Baltic Assembly Writing Award (2005). There is a scarcity of Estonian poetry in English translation, and this project is significant to introduce a wider audience to an influential contemporary poet.
  • Pedro Enrique Rodriguez Jr. To support the translation of travelogues and novels by George Groslier, a Cambodian-born French writer. Groslier (1887-1945) spent his youth and adolescence in France, but when his dreams of becoming a painter were squashed, he sought a job in colonial service. His first assignment in 1913 sent him back to Cambodia. This was the beginning of a life-long pursuit to catalogue and preserve Khmer art and culture. He is the author of several travelogues, novels, and scholarly work.
  • Jake Schneider. To support the translation of German poet Ron Winkler’s Fragmented Waters. Born in 1973, Winkler’s 2004 breakthrough poetry collection established him as a contemporary poet who dares to write about the natural world. He cannot be classified as a proverbial nature poet; instead Winkler maps a playfully fresh glossary, calling fish “professionally primitive” and diagnosing the wind as “going through a pedagogical phase.” Martin Droschke’s summation of Fragmented Waters: “Ron Winkler has blended two virtually incongruous texts: a passed-down nature walk and a user’s manual for life in the Information Age.”
  • Archana Venkatesan. To support the translation of the ninth-century poem “Sacred Speech” by Satakōpan (popularly known as Nammālvār). Satakōpan was regarded as one of the greatest poets and theologians of early medieval India. “Sacred Speech,” a devotional song poem of 1,102 verses, is one of his four major poetic works. These four poems continue to enjoy an active ritual and oral life in India today. Despite its importance, Sacred Speech has yet to be translated in its entirety from Tamil into English.
  • Alex Zucker. To support the translation from Czech of Marketa Lazarova by novelist Vladislav Vančura. Published in 1931 to critical acclaim, this best-selling novel is set in a town outside of Prague in the 13th-century. The novel remains a classic, in part because of its richly stylized language. In the plot, a lord’s daughter is kidnapped by a neighboring clan and becomes a mistress to one of her captors. The novel is considered Vančura’s thinly veiled address to the Czech people about challenging the Nazi party uprising in Germany. Vančura joined an underground resistance movement and was executed by the German S.S. in 1942. In his lifetime, he published 11 novels, five short story collections, and five plays.


24 August 09 | Chad W. Post | Comments

I know E.J. posted about this last week, but I wanted to give my own personal shout-out to a few of the recipients of this year’s NEA Translation Fellowships.

Complete descriptions of all sixteen funded projects can be found here, but in addition to the projects E.J. mentioned—Charlotte Mandell’s translation of Mathias Enard’s Zone and Martha Tennent’s translation of Merce Rodoreda’s stories—below are a few of the others that caught my eye (with all descriptions from the NEA website unless noted):

  • Chantal Bilodeau to support the translation from French of plays by French-African playwright Koffi Kwahulé. His work explores the dynamics of power and oppression of disenfranchised individuals, the search for identity, and the isolation of contemporary life in urban settings. This fellowship will support the translation of three plays — That Old Black Magic, Blue-S-cat, and The Melancholy of Barbarians — completing Bilodeau’s seven-play anthology of Kwahulé‘s work. The anthology will trace the evolution of his aesthetic, reflecting the influence of Hollywood films, rhythm and blues, and jazz.
  • Ellen Elias-Bursac To support the translation from Croatian of the novel The Goldsmith’s Gold by August Šenoa. Originally published in 1871, The Goldsmith’s Gold was the first Croatian novel following a 300-year hiatus in written literature. It paints a portrait of political and clerical intrigue, and explores themes including secularity, modernity, the rise of the middle class, and the role of women in society.
  • Sandra Kingery To support the translation from Spanish of Esther Tusquets’s memoir We Won the War. Published to great acclaim in Spain in 2007, We Won the War covers nearly two decades (1939-56) beginning with the post-Civil War years in Spain. It offers insight into Tusquets’s personal history and tracks the evolution of her social and policial views as she turns away from her family’s pro-Franco stance to join the fight for individual freedom and democracy.
  • Tess Lewis To support the translation from German of Die Kinder Beruhigte das Nicht (That Didn’t Reassure the Children), a collection of short stories by Austrian writer Alois Hotschnig. His haunting stories maintain a delicate balance between intimacy and isolation. [Three stories from this collection appeared in a recent issue of The Hudson Review ]
  • Eugene Ostashevsky To support the translation from Russian of a prose dialogue, Conversations, by philosopher Leonid Lipavsky. It is a creative text that portrays conversations between Lipavsky and poets in the OBERIU group — considered the last faction of the Russian avant-garde. Its members included Daniil Kharms and Alexander Vvedensky, and this work serves as a historical record as well as a creative work, since most of those portrayed were arrested or died in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
  • Daniel Shapiro To support the translation from Spanish of the short story collection Missing Persons, Animals and Artists by Mexican writer Roberto Ransom. It includes nine short stories, which range in place — from Mexico to Europe — and time, from the contemporary era to the Renaissance. The stories explore such subjects as the loneliness of childhood and the intersection between art and politics. [Daniel also runs Review magazine at the Americas Society, which focuses on the literature and art of North America. Lot of great articles, reviews, fiction, and poetry.]
  • Russell Valentino To support the translation from Rovignese of a collection of poetry, Conversations with Filip the Seagull in this Corner of Paradise, by Ligio Zanini. Zanini is considered the principle poetic voice of Istria, and has published seven acclaimed collections of poetry. Only one, Conversations with Filip the Seagull in this Corner of Paradise, was ever translated from Rovignese (a rare Istro-Venetian dialect spoken only by some 600 people) to Croatian. [Be sure and check out Russell’s publishing house, Autumn Hill, as well. They do some excellent books.]

And here’s the list of all the other recipients:

Diane Arnson Svarlien
Olga Broumas
Brian Henry
Tina A. Kover
Eléna Rivera
Nahma Sandrow
Richard Tillinghast

Congratulations to everyone—this is a great group of translators and a great group of projects.

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