Yesterday the National Endowment for the Arts announced it was awarding 16 fellowships to literary translators for 2012, totaling $200,000. The NEA has been an important supporter of literary translation ever since it began awarding translation fellowships in 1981. This year’s awards are valued at $12,500 pending Congressional approval of the NEA’s 2012 budget.
My work on Robert Walser was supported twice by the NEA over the years, so I am personally very grateful for the existence of this program. In particular in the case of the first Walser novel I ever translated – his 1925 posthumously published book The Robber, written during the same period as the stories collected in Microscripts – the translation would never have come about without the NEA’s support. I had been unsuccessful in my attempts to find a publisher for the book, and the prestige of the grant, combined with the fact that I had already been paid something for the translation, encouraged Nebraska University Press to take on the project. The novel was published in 2000 and is still in print.
Here’s the list of the 2012 NEA Literature Translation Fellows:
• Eric Abrahamsen (Chinese) for Running Through Zhongguancun by the contemporary novelist Xu Zechen
• Ross Benjamin (German) for The Frequencies by Clemens J. Setz
• Lisa Rose Bradford (Spanish) for Oxen Rage by Argentine poet Juan Gelman
• Geoffrey Brock (Italian) for the selected poems of Giovanni Pascoli
• Peter Constantine (Russian) for the stories and vignettes from Anton Chekhov’s early period (1880-85)
• Kristin Dykstra (Spanish) for Catch and Release by Cuban poet Reina María Rodríguez
• Michelle Gil-Montero (Spanish) for The Annunciation by Argentinian novelist María Negroni
• David Hinton (Chinese) for the selected poems of Mei Yao-ch’en
• William Maynard Hutchins (Arabic) for the novel New Waw by Ibrahim al-Koni
• Pierre Joris (German) for The Complete Later Poetry of Paul Celan
• Karen Kovacik (Polish) for In What World: Selected Poems by Agnieszka Kuciak
• Brandon Lussier (Estonian) for a collection of new and selected poems by Estonian poet Hasso Krull
• Pedro Enrique Rodriguez Jr. (French) for travelogues and novels by George Groslier, a Cambodian-born French writer
• Jake Schneider (German) for poet Ron Winkler’s Fragmented Water
• Archana Venkatesan (Tamil) for the ninth-century poem “Sacred Speech” by Satakōpan (popularly known as Nammālvār)
• Alex Zucker (Czech) for Markéta Lazarová by novelist Vladislav Vančura
For more detailed descriptions of the projects, see the NEA’s website. The deadline for next year’s competition is Jan. 6, 2012; application information can be found here.