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National Endowment for the Arts Announces Literature Translation Fellowships

Fellowships bring works from 14 countries and 10 languages to U.S. readers

Washington, DC -- 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.

The 2013 NEA Translation Fellows are:

  • Dan Bellm (French) for Song of the Dead, a volume of poetry by Pierre Reverdy 
  • Daniel Brunet (German) for experimental plays by playwright Dea Loher
  • Wendy Burk (Spanish) for Tedi López Mills' eighth book of poems, Against the Current
  • Sara E. Cooper (Spanish) for the novel, The Bleeding Wound, by Cuban writer Mirta Yáñez
  • Daniel Coudriet (Spanish) for Argentinean writer Lila Zemborain's collection of poems, Torn
  • Deborah Garfinkle (Czech) for Worm-Eaten Time, a collection of poems by Pavel Šrut
  • Christian Hawkey (German) for Ilse Aichinger's collection of short fiction,Bad Words  (This project is a collaboration with poet Uljana Wolf.)
  • Lynne Lawner (Italian) for poems by Giorgio Orelli
  • Rika Lesser (Swedish) for Elisabeth Rynell's novel, Hohaj
  • Sylvia Lichun Lin (Chinese) for The Lost Garden, a novel by Taiwanese author Li Ang
  • Samuel Perry (Japanese) for Sata Ineko's novel, Crimson
  • John G. Peters (Japanese) for Journey, a collection of poetry by Takamura Kôtarô
  • Matt Reeck (Urdu) for Paigham Afaqui's novel, The House
  • Katherine Silver (Spanish) for three works of contemporary fiction by the late Mexican writer Daniel Sada
  • Johanna Warren (Spanish) for short fiction by contemporary Salvadoran author, Claudia Hernández
  • Charles Waugh (Vietnamese) for an anthology of short fiction by young Vietnamese writers, New Voices from Vietnam (This project is a collaboration with Nguyen Lien, professor emeritus at Vietnam National University.)

Please see the complete descriptions of each funded project.

The NEA supports translation not only through these fellowships but also through direct grants to not-for-profit organizations to support projects that promote and develop audiences for international literature. Visit the NEA's Writers Corner to read work from the creative writing and literary translation fellows.

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at www.arts.gov.