Given all the attention being paid recently to the fact that so much of the international literature that gets translated into English comes from a handful of “top” languages (French, German, Italian, and Spanish generally lead the pack), it’s always great to see initiatives focussed on supporting translations from less represented languages. The latest effort in that direction comes from Northwestern University Press, which has just established the Global Humanities Translation Prize, which comes with a $5000 award and publication of the manuscript in question. Here are the categories in which translators are invited to submit:
- Underrepresented and experimental literary voices from marginalized communities
- Humanistic scholarship in infrequently translated languages
- Important classical texts in non-Western traditions and languages
Complete submission information will soon be made available on the website of Northwest’s Buffett Institute for Global Studies, meanwhile you can read the press release announcing the new prize. My first question when I saw the announcement was whether the $5000 award is meant to be in addition to whatever contract the translator is offered or rather (as I suspect) the full payment for a translation done as a work-for-hire, in which case, depending on the length of the book in question, this is a not particularly well-paid translation gig for anything but a quite short book. If it is indeed as I fear, then this opportunity will probably be of interest primarily to academics and others with better-paid day jobs who have the leisure to take on work they couldn’t pay the rent with, or to first-time translators looking to build their resumes. No doubt the submission information page will contain more details of the terms Northwestern is proposing. And certainly I’m thrilled to see a university press with good visibility taking on the challenge of giving us a broader swath of international writing. The deadline for submissions is Aug. 1, 2016.