2007 PEN Translation Fund
Susan Bernofsky, for her translation from the German of Robert Walser’s 1908 novel The Assistant, the melancholy and mischievously ironic story of a penniless young man who works for and lives with a spendthrift family in a lavish villa on the shores of Lake Zurich. (New Directions)
Jennifer Hayashida for her translation from the Swedish of Clockwork of Flowers: Explanations and Poems by Fredrik Nyberg. Fine, delicate, and exact renderings of poems that simultaneously invoke Carl Linnaeus, the “Father of Taxonomy,” and the anarchic spirit of punk rock. (No publisher)
Wen Huang for his translation from the Chinese of Farewell to Jiabiangou, a collection of short stories by Yang Xianhui. Combining the passionate realism of fiction with the political outrage of journalism, these stories recount in devastating detail the experiences of intellectuals and former government officials shipped to Jiabiangou, a gulag in the desert region of northwestern China. (No publisher)
Ha-yun Jung for her translation from the Korean of A Lone Room, a 1995 novel by Shin Kyong-sook which was awarded Korea’s prestigious Manhae Literary Prize. A Lone Room vividly evokes the life of an intellectually ambitious young girl struggling to survive as a sweatshop worker in the 1970s. (No publisher)
Sara Khalili for her translation from the Farsi of Seasons of Purgatory, a selection of short stories by contemporary Iranian writer Shahriar Mandanipour. As if the ghosts from the Arabian Nights had come to life among freeways, high-rises and fiber-optic networks, these stories embody the fierce clash of modernity and traditionalism in Iran today. (No publisher)
Paul Olchváry for his translation from the Hungarian of The Ninth, a 2005 novel by Ferenc Barnás. The story of the nine-year-old ninth child of a poor Catholic family in the Communist Hungary of the 1960s, the novel was hailed by critics as portraying “the unmistakable, throat- and gut-wrenching quality of distress that everyone remembers from his or her own childhood…” (No publisher)
Bill Porter (a.k.a. Red Pine) for his translation from the classical Chinese of an anthology of the poems of Wei Ying-wu, one of the greatest of the T’ang Dynasty poets, whose work is singularly underrepresented in English. (Copper Canyon Press)
Katherine Silver for her translation from the Spanish of Senselessness, a gripping and mordantly audacious novel by contemporary Salvadoran/Honduran Horacio Castellanos Moya, whose work was been praised for being politically and morally engaged without being predictably testimonial or politically correct. (New Directions)
Christopher Southward for his translation from the Japanese of Acacia, short stories by Hitonari Tsuji, who also makes films under the name Jinsei Tsuji. Tsuji has been awarded the Prix Femina Etranger (1999) and the Akutagawa Prize (1997) for his writing, and the International Critics Prize at the 56th Venice International Film Festival for one of his films. This is the first English translation of any portion of his extensive body of work. (No publisher)
Alyson Waters for her translation from the French of The Colors of Infamy, a novel by Egyptian writer Albert Cossery (b. 1913), whose work was championed by Henry Miller in the 1950s. This short, densely baroque novel echoes the meandering streets and wild variety of Cairo itself, and has been praised for its “characteristic blend of Olympian detachment and fine-grained moral inspection.” (No publisher)
Translation Fund History
The PEN Translation Fund was established in the summer of 2003 by a gift of $730,000 from an anonymous donor. The Fund came into being in response to the dismayingly low number of literary translations in English. Its purpose is to promote the publication of translated world literature in English.
In addition to providing grant moneys in support of these translations, the PEN Translation Fund works with the Center for Literary Translation at Columbia University to connect those projects currently without a publisher with interested publishers, and to promote the projects in a variety of ways both during the translation process and after publication. The Advisory Board has announced that henceforth there will be a slight change in the applications guidelines. As of next year, winners of grants from the Fund will be ineligible to apply for further money from the Fund for three years following the year in which they received a PEN Translation Fund grant.
The more than 150 applications received by the Fund this year were evaluated by the 2007 Advisory Board: Esther Allen (chair), Sara Bershtel, Barbara Epler, Michael Henry Heim, Michael Moore, Richard Sieburth, and Eliot Weinberger. This year for the first time, all PTF poetry applications not yet under contract with a publisher for translations of work by living authors were forwarded to the National Poetry Series, as candidates for the new Robert Fagles Prize for Poetry in Translation which the National Poetry Series is inaugurating.