Tips for Beginning Translators

It’s not as if every young and/or aspiring translator is the same as every other one, but I do get a lot of notes asking basically the same thing: If I’m interested in breaking into the field of literary translation, how do I start? How do I get published? Here’s the sort of advice I tend to give out, starting with the question: You do understand that being a literary translator is probably not a way to make a living without a day job, right? If that’s all right with you, keep reading.

For starters, you should be submitting your work to literary magazines. These don’t have to be magazines that specialize in translation; most literary mags are happy to consider translated work, especially if you let them know in your cover letter that you’ve already looked into the rights situation. Read more …

2017 PEN USA Translation Award Shortlist Announced

This week, PEN USA announced the shortlists for its literary awards, and unlike one of the prize categories this year, the Translation shortlist is refreshingly free of scandal, even containing 50% books by female authors, a pleasing statistic, especially given that it’s Women in Translation Month. The award comes with a $1000 purse.

Here are the four shortlisted translators for the PEN USA Translation Award:

  • Kareem James Abu-Zeid for Confessions by Rabee Jaber (New Directions)
  • Philip Boehm for The Fox Was Ever The Hunter by Herta Müller (Metropolitan)
  • Geoffrey Brock for Six Memos For The Next Millennium by Italo Calvino (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • Jordan Stump for Cockroaches by Scholastique Mukasonga (Archipelago)

The winner will be announced in early September, followed by a prize ceremony in Beverly Hills in October. Congratulations and best of luck to all four shortlisted translators!

2017 National Translation Award Shortlists Announced

The American Literary Translators Association has just announced the shortlists for its 2017 National Translation Awards in Poetry and Prose. The winners of both awards will be announced this October at the 40th anniversary ALTA conference in Minneapolis. I’m delighted to see smaller publishers so well-represented on this list. Special congratulations to co•im•press and NYRB Classics, with two books each on these lists.

2017 NTA Shortlist in Poetry

Berlin • Hamlet
by Szilárd Borbély
translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet
(New York Review of Books)

Canto General
by Pablo Neruda
translated from the Spanish by Mariela Griffor
(Tupelo Press) Read more …

Katy Derbyshire on Women in Translation Month

As you probably already know, Katy Derbyshire is one of the literary translators working hardest to make sure that we can have nice things. She’s just written up an excellent account of what Women in Translation Month is all about. Here’s a taste:

Only a tiny fraction of fiction published in English is translated, and only about a quarter of that translated fiction was originally written by women. For some reason, fiction in translation by women remains as rare as black diamonds. And yet there are so many amazing women-authored books out there in the world – books we’re missing out on.

Read more …

Women in Translation Month 2017

August is Women in Translation Month, which honors women authors in translation, and this post is to let you know how it’s being celebrated around the English-speaking world. Please send me events and posts you hear about so I can add them to this post all month long.

One important resource for anyone interested in following #WomenInTranslation is the website Women in Translation, which posts relevant announcements and resources, including the list of books currently being considered for the inaugural Warwick Prize to honor a work in English translation by a woman author. Read more …

Translation on Tap in NYC, Aug. 1 – 31, 2017

August is Women in Translation Month, and I hope you’ll spend these sultry weeks reading some fabulous translated books by women authors. Of course, all year round is the perfect time to read #WomenInTranslation, but the designated month is a great opportunity to remind yourself of all the amazing women writing all over the world whose books have been translated into English for your reading pleasure. Please tweet your reads to me at @translationista with the hashtags #WomenInTranslation or #WITMonth. And if you’re in NYC, maybe you’ll show up to one of the Women in Translation Month events being planned around the city. I’ll update as more information comes in. Here’s what I’ve got so far: Read more …

Remembering John Felstiner

Last February, translator, author, and scholar John Felstiner passed away at the age of 80. Aviya Kushner wrote these words in his memory:

I found John Felstiner’s translations of Paul Celan’s poetry at the bottom of a bonus box of books sent to me to review. At the time, I had a wonderful editor who mailed me a monthly box containing all the new poetry books published in this country. Occasionally, he sent me a bonus—all the translations he could get his hands on, or biographies of poets, or books that made him think of me, like Read more …


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