National Endowment Announces Literary Translation Fellowships
August 21, 2014
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced last week that it awarded $300,000 in grants to twenty translators in an effort to support the literary translation of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry, and to introduce readers to more “global experiences, deep insights,” and “surprise connections.” Concurrently, NEA recently released a collection of nineteen thought-provoking essays, The Art of Empathy: Celebrating Literature in Translation, wherein translators explore challenges related to literary translation and also promote the art.
NEA’s support of literary translation has been ongoing since 1981, and has usually come in the form of fellowships, which help facilitate translations of both old and new texts. According to NEA’s press release, NEA Chairman Jane Chu called this “one of the most important ways we can broaden our nation’s perspectives while also making the work of these talented writers and translators more available. Given the wide array of ethnicities and traditions in this country, translation helps bring us together and accept the differences among us.”
The twenty recipients of the 2015 Literature Translation Fellowship include Wendy Call of Seattle, WA, Cynthia Hogue of Phoenix, AZ, Jeffrey Yang of Beacon, NY, and Andrew Zawacki of Athens, GA.
The Art of Empathy can be downloaded free of charge as a PDF at arts.gov. Topics include the collaborative nature of translation, the “recovery” of Latino culture through translation, and how translation encourages empathy, among others.
In the introduction to The Art of Empathy, NEA Director of Literature Amy Stolls writes: “Translation is an art. It takes a great deal of creativity and patience to do it well, not to mention a deep knowledge of a writer’s language, place, and oeuvre. But it also takes fortitude, for translators are notoriously underpaid and underappreciated, their names often left off the covers of the books they create.”
At the National Book Festival on Saturday, August 30th, 2014, from 10:55 am to 11:40 am, Stolls will moderate a panel discussion on books in translation with author-translators Paul Auster and Natasha Wimmer. The discussion will take place in the NEA-sponsored Poetry & Prose tent. See arts.gov for more information or for interviews with translators.