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Felicidades to the honorees of the PEN American Center 2012 Translation Fund grants! The fund “was established in the summer of 2003 by a gift of $730,000 from an anonymous donor in response to the dismayingly low number of literary translations currently appearing in English. Its purpose is to promote the publication and reception of translated world literature in English.”      ~PEN in Translation

Who is Eligible & How to Apply

The PEN Translation Fund provides grants to support the translation of book-length works of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, or drama that have not previously appeared in English in print or have appeared only in an outdated or otherwise flawed translation. There are no restrictions on the nationality or citizenship of the translator, but the works must be translated into English. The Fund seeks to encourage translators to undertake projects they might not otherwise have had the means to attempt. Anthologies with multiple translators, works of literary criticism, and scholarly or technical texts do not qualify. As of 2008, translators who have previously been awarded grants by the Fund are ineligible to reapply for three years after the year in which they receive a grant.

Download the application

For more information, please contact awards@pen.org or (212) 334-1660 ext. 122.


Year after year the PEN Translation Fund facilitates the elegant translation into English of works from around the world, helping to make important writers accessible to an Anglophone readership and to open our minds and hearts to other peoples. The crucial cultural work of the Fund and of the translators it recognizes goes to the very essence of why PEN was started 90 years ago.

—Peter Godwin, President of PEN American Center


The PEN Translation Fund, now celebrating its ninth year, is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s competition. From a field of 130 applicants, the Fund’s Advisory Board—Susan Bernofsky, Barbara Epler, Edwin Frank, Michael Reynolds, Richard Sieburth, Eliot Weinberger, and Natasha Wimmer, and chaired by Michael F. Moore—has selected the following twelve projects for funding:

Bernard Adams for his translation of Andrea Tompa‘s A hóhér háza (The Hangman’s House), a poignant and beautiful novel about a girl growing up in a Romanian-Hungarian family during the 70s and 80s in Ceau?escu’s Romania. The translation combines a fine-fingering attention to detail with a powerful emotional sweep. (Available for publication)

Alexander Booth for in felderlatein (in field latin) by Lutz Seiler. Widely acknowledged as one of the major German poets of his generation, the work of Seiler has been translated only sporadically. Booth’s translations give a strong sense of Seiler’s poetic voice, with an incessant use of fragmentation as he attempts to pin down memory (usually childhood memory, sometimes of traumatic events) and the stark imagery of his terse lines. (Available for publication)

Brent Edwards for L’Afrique fantôme (Phantom Africa) by Michel Leiris. A diaristic account of Leiris’s activities as the “secretary-archivist” of Marcel Griaule’s Mission Dakar-Djibouti (1931-33), often compared to Lévi-Strauss’s Tristes Tropiques for introducing a path-breaking critical self-reflexivity into the discourse of anthropology. (Seagull Books)
Joshua Daniel Edwin for kummerang (gloomerang), the first book by young German poet Dagmara Kraus. These translations display an explosive inventiveness and poetic intelligence that find surprising, engaging ways to render Kraus’s poems. They appeal as much through their sly punning and syncopated rhythms as they do through the stories told between the lines. (Available for publication)

Musharraf Ali Farooqi for his translation from the Urdu of Muhammad Husain Jah and Ahmed Husain Qamar’s Hoshruba: The Prisoner of Batin, the second volume of an 8,000-page late-nineteenth century epic of magical fantasy based on the popular oral narrative tradition. (Random House India)

Deborah Garfinkle for her translation of Worm-Eaten Time: Poems from a Life Under Normalization, a selection of hallucinatory poems that were banned by the government and circulated in samizdat copies, by the Czech poet Pavel Šrut. Šrut’s poems were written during the Prague Spring of 1968 and then, after a ten-year silence, in the 1980s before the fall of Communism. (Available for publication)

Hillary Gulley for the translation of Marcelo Cohen’s El fin de los mismo (The End of the Same). A formal experimentation and sci-fi-inflected mini-plots—including a prison on the beach and a man in love with a woman with three arms—shape this finely wrought Argentinean novel. (Available for publication)

Bonnie Huie for her translation of Notes of a Crocodile by the Taiwanese writer Qiu Miaojin. The only novel published by Qiu before her suicide at 26, this work is an extraordinary combination of mash note, love story, comic shtick, aesthetic manifesto, and spiritual autobiography. It is a groundbreaking queer novel and a classic of modern Taiwanese literature. (Available for publication)

Jacquelyn Pope for her translation of Hester Knibbe’s Hungerpots, from the Dutch. These wry, unsentimental poems gently upend myths of domestic life and wax anti-poetically (yet beautifully) on the most ordinary manifestations of nature. (Available for publication)

Matt Reeck and Aftab Ahmad for a delightfully light-on-its-feet translation of the novel in Urdu Mirages of the Mind by Mushtaq Ahmad Yousufi. Tracing an arc of nostalgia between Pakistan and India, its main characters are all Indian Muslim immigrants in Pakistan whose struggles veer from the comic to the tragic. The translators’ touch is graceful, lively, and supple. Humor can be the hardest element to successfully bring into a new language and they carry over the singularly elastic wit of Yousufi with considerable aplomb. (Available for publication)

Carrie Reed for a complete translation of Youyang zazu (Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang) by Duan Chengshi. A vast compendium from the Tang Dynasty of weird scientific and ethnographic information and generally strange stories. (Available for publication)

Nathanaël for The Mausoleum of Lovers by Hervé Guibert, a posthumous collection of the private journals that the well-known novelist and AIDS activist kept from 1976-1991—a series of literary snapshots of the author’s various objects of desire and mourning and already a classic of French autobiography. (Available for publication)

The Advisory Board is also pleased to announce that its nominee for a 2012 New York State Council on the Arts translation grant, Ana Boži?evi?, was awarded a grant in January for her translation of Snow on Fire by Serbian poet Zvonko Karanovi?. Karanovi?, a countercultural icon, writes in a vivid, sophisticated vernacular of desire and transcendence amid cultural and political change. (Available for publication)

Publishers and editors who wish to express an interest in any of these projects are invited to contact Paul Morris (Paul@pen.org ) or Michael Moore (michael.moore@esteri.it).

The Fund gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support of Amazon.com, which has assisted the Fund’s work this year with a gift of $25,000.

Click here to read excerpts from the winning manuscripts!

*Press release re-posted with permission.