Archive for January 2015

Apply Now for the 2015 French-American Foundation Translation Prize

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 12.24.36 PMThe French-American Foundation’s Translation Prize has been around since 1986 and offers one of the largest awards around ($10,000) for an outstanding translation from the French. The Foundation’s stated intention behind giving the prize is to promote French literature in the U.S., increase the visibility of translators and their craft, and support publishers of translated literature. Eligible projects for the 2015 competition are works of prose (fiction or non-fiction) published in the U.S. in 2014. The list of jury members is a veritable Who’s Who of French translation world celebrities. More details and instructions for submission here. If you have questions about the application process, contact Thibault Chareton in the French-American Foundation offices. The deadline is coming right up: Friday, February 13 at 12:00 p.m.

2015 Austrian Cultural Forum Translation Prize Announced

tessThe Austrian Cultural Forum has just announced that its 2015 translation prize is being awarded to Tess Lewis for her translation-in-progress of Maja Haderlap’s novel Engel des Vergessens (Angel of Oblivion). The $5000 award will be presented at a March 24 ceremony at the Austrian Cultural Forum (details to come). Lewis, whose previous translations from French and German include works by Peter Handke, Alois Hotschnig, Julya Rabinowich, Melinda Nadj Abonji, Pascal Bruckner, and Jean-Luc Benoziglio, is also the curator of Festival Neue Literatur, which will take place next month (Feb. 19 – 22) in New York.

Apply Now for a 2015 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant

Michael Henry Heim

As most readers of this blog probably already know, winning a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant is one of the best ways to break into the translation scene as a newcomer, or to draw publishers’ attention to an unusual but worthy project. The size and number of available grants fluctuate every year along with the stock market, but usually there are something like a dozen grants awarded (last year there were 15), usually ranging from $2000-4000). Now that these grants have been around for a decade, many publishers of translations have gotten used to glancing over the list of winning projects to see if there’s anything likely to fit in the publisher’s list. According to PEN, “Among the 50 projects awarded grants in the Fund’s first five years of operation (2004–2008), 39 of those (78%) have thus far been published or are forthcoming from a publisher.” In other words, it’s definitely well worth your while to apply.

And how do you do that? For starters, hop over the PEN website for the application guidelines. The Fund recently transitioned to an online-based application process, so you’ll want to read the instructions carefully. This year’s deadline is Jan. 30, 2015.

One piece of information for the application that you should immediately start working on acquiring is the copyright notice, since this is information you’ll have to retrieve from the copyright holder. Here’s what the application guidelines say:

If the book is not in the public domain and the project is not yet under contract, please include a photocopy of the copyright notice on the original (the copyright notice is a line including the character ©, a date, and the name of the copyright holder, which appears as part of the front matter in every book), and a letter from the copyright holder stating that English-language rights to the book are available.

A letter like this is fairly straightforward to acquire in most cases. The copyright holder isn’t assigning the rights to you, the translator (that’s not legally possible in any case) but is simply confirming that the rights are available for purchase (by a future English-language publisher of the work). If the foreign publishing house has a website with contact information listings, you should easily be able to find the person in the publisher’s foreign rights division who’ll be able to give you such a letter If the publishing house isn’t online, you’ll have to put a query letter in the mail stat and hope for a speedy response. Or else start making some international phone calls. It’s my guess that in a difficult case (publisher not responding to letters after a reasonable amount of time) you won’t necessarily be disqualified from applying if you can demonstrate a good-faith effort to reach the right’s holder. But if the problem is that you waited to the last minute to start trying to round up this information, methinks that might not fly.

These grants were made possible by the incredible generosity of Priscilla Heim and the late Michael Henry Heim, a great translator from more languages than I have fingers. We’re lucky to have them. Check out the application instructions here, and then – Translationista advises – get cracking on your applications ASAP!

Translation on Tap in NYC, Jan. 16 – 31, 2015

Here’s what’s coming up in Translationland:

Saturday, Jan. 17:

Why Retranslate the Classics? Panel discussion to celebrate the 4th anniversary of Asymptote Journal, with the great Edith Grossman talking about her retranslation of Don Quixote, Translationista talking about her ditto of The Metamorphosis, Damion Searls and Tara FitzGerald, moderator. This is a ticketed event (fundraiser), details here. To be held at Tishman Auditorium at The New School, 66 W. 12th St., 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 22:

Writing Across Borders and Languages, a conversation with bilingual Italian-Algerian author Amara Lakhous, who will be speaking, among other things, about bilingual writing and (self-)translation. East Gallery, Buell Hall, Columbia University. More information here. 6:00 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 29:

silvina_ocampo_gA Celebration of Silvina Ocampo to toast the appearance of two books by the late great Argentine writer (and Borges buddy): Thus Were Their Faces (short fiction) and Silvina Ocampo (poems). The event features translators Jason Weiss, Esther Allen, Daniel Balderston, and Yvette Siegert discussing Ocampo’s life and work. Event details here. The Community Bookstore, 143 Seventh Ave. in Brooklyn, 7:00 p.m.

An Officer and a Translator

Davis-210x300This is just a little post to note that the great Lydia Davis, whose translations (e.g. Madame Bovary, Swann’s Way, etc.) are as luscious as her own fiction writing, is about to be named an Officier of the French Order of Arts and Letters by Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy Antonin Baudry, in a closed ceremony in New York on Jan. 15, 2015. They can’t knight her, because she was already named a Chevalier back in 1999 for her translations of Michel Leiris, Emmanuel Hocquard, Jean-Pierre Jouve, Maurice Blanchot, and Françoise Giroud. If I have understood the fine points of the highly complex system of French honorifics correctly, to be named an Officier is even a higher honor than knighthood. All these titles sound odd when applied to a woman, of course (yes, I assume that wasn’t in the original plan). Apparently the (British) female form of “sir” (for knights) is “dame” (for lady knights). “Dame Officer Davis” doesn’t sound quite right in either English or French, but if you get the accent right on “chevalier et officier,” you’ll be in good shape to congratulate this splendid writer and translator when you see her next.

Apply now for the 5th Biannual Graduate Student Translation Conference

Translation.banner.6The Biannual Graduate Student Translation conference is a splendid tradition dreamed up by Michael Henry Heim and launched in 2004 at UCLA; additional iterations of the conference (generally staged more than two years apart, alas) have since taken place at Columbia University, the University of Iowa and, most recently, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (in 2010, with Translationista as keynote speaker). Now the 5th Biannual 
Graduate Student Translation Conference has been announced, to be held May 8-9, 2015, once again at the University of Michigan, with the brilliant Sean Cotter giving the keynote.

At the heart of the conference are the thematically-organized six-member workshops for graduate students translating into English from any language. Participants read and critique each others’ translations. Spots in the workshop are competitive, and applications are due soon, so please get ready to submit your work by February 1, 2015. Applications include 5-10 translated poems or 5-10 pages of prose, a scan of the original, a one-page statement on “your motivations for translating the text and specific challenges it presents the translator” and a CV. All applications to be submitted by email here. Submit any questions to that address as well.

The conference will also feature several roundtables with an emphasis on translation practice, staffed with professionals in the field. I hear publisher/editor Chad Post of Open Letter Books is already confirmed as a speaker.

The conference organizers are prepared to help graduate students visiting for the conference find local accommodations. There is also the possibility of limited financial assistance to applicants unable to secure travel funding from their home institutions. Inquire here.

I’m thrilled that this excellent tradition is being continued; let’s do what we can to make the biannual conference biannual again.

Translation on Tap in NYC, Jan. 1 – 15, 2015

julialiviHappy new year, everyone! I’m looking forward to sharing another year of excellent translation events with you. Here’s what we’ve got to start us out:

Tuesday, Jan. 6:

The Art of Literary Translation: How Meaning Translates Across Languages, with PEN Translation Committee Co-Chair and National Translation Award winner Alex Zucker and Julia Livi, author of the bilingual children’s book series Voltaire: The Franco-American Hipster Dog. This even is being hosted by Fluent City, an after-work language program for adults. More information here. Word Books, 126 Franklin St, Brooklyn, 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 13:

Here’s an event in German: Czech-born Austrian author and translator Zdenka Becker reading from her new novel, Der grösste Fall meines Vaters, and speaking with translator (and FnL curator!) Tess Lewis. More information here. NYU Deutsches Haus, 42 Washington Mews, 6:30 p.m.

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