The PEN Translation 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.

Amiri Ayanna, The St. Katharinental Sister Book: Lives of the Sisters of the Dominican Convent at Diessenhofen (from Middle High German)

Neil Blackadder, The Test (Good Simon Korach), a play by Swiss dramatist and novelist Lukas Bärfuss (from German)

Clarissa Botsford, Sworn Virgin, a novel by Albanian writer and filmmaker Elvira Dones (from Italian)

Steve Bradbury, Salsa, a collection of poems by Taiwanese poet Hsia Yü (from Chinese)

Annmarie S. Drury, collection of poems by Tanzanian poet Euphrase Kezilahabi (from Swahili)

Diane Nemec Ignashev, Paranoia, a novel by Belarusian author Viktor Martinovich (from Russian)

Chenxin Jiang, Memories of the Cowshed, a memoir by Chinese author Ji Xianlin (from Chinese)

Hilary B. Kaplan, Rilke Shake, a collection of poetry by Brazilian writer Angélica Freitas (from Portuguese)

Catherine Schelbert, Flametti, or the Dandyism of the Poor, a novel by German writer Hugo Ball (from German)

Joel Streicker, Birds in the Mouth, a collection of short stories by Argentine writer Samanta Schweblin (from Spanish)

Sarah L. Thomas, Turnaround, a literary thriller by Spanish writer Mar Goméz Glez (from Spanish)

Translation Fund History

Over the seven years of its existence, the Fund has given grants of $2,000–$10,000 to a total of 72 translations from 30 languages, including Armenian, Basque, Estonian, Farsi, Finland-Swedish, Lithuanian and Mongolian, as well as French, Spanish, German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic.

Among the 50 projects awarded grants in the Fund’s first five years of operation (2004–2008), 38 of those (76 percent) have thus far been published or are forthcoming from a publisher. Many of those books found their publishers as a result of being awarded a grant by the Fund.

In addition to being excerpted and favorably reviewed in a host of magazines including The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Granta, The Paris Review, Words Without Borders, The Literary Review, Mandorla, and many others, about 20 percent of the published PEN Translation Fund projects have won or been shortlisted for major literary awards, including:

• Winner of the 2009 Northern California Book Award for Translation: Katherine Silver for Senselessness by Horacio Castellanos Moya (New Directions, 2008)

• Winner of the R. R. Hawkins Award from the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers, as the Outstanding Professional, Reference or Scholarly Book of 2007: Peter Cole for The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950–1492 (Princeton University Press, 2007)

• Winner of the 2007 National Jewish Book Award for Poetry: Peter Cole for The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950–1492 (Princeton University Press, 2007)

• Finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry: Karen Emmerich for her translation of Miltos Sachtouris’ Poems (1945–1971) from the Greek (Archipelago Books, 2007)

• Winner of the 2006 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize from the Goethe-Institut Chicago: Susan Bernofsky for her translation of Jenny Erpenbeck’s The Old Child and Other Stories from the German (New Directions, 2005)

• Support from the Lannan Foundation’s Translation Selections Series: Idra Novey’s translation of Brazilian poet Pablo Henriques Britto’s The Clean Shirt of It: Selected Poems (BOA Editions, 2007)

• Short-listed for Canada’s highly prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize in 2006: Liz Winslow’s translation of Iraqi poet Dunya Mikhail’s The War Works Hard (New Directions, 2005)

• Named one of the 25 Books to Remember of 2005 by the New York Public Library: Liz Winslow’s translation of Dunya Mikhail’s The War Works Hard (New Directions, 2005)

2011 Judges

David Bellos, Susan Bernofsky, Edwin Frank, Michael F. Moore, Michael Reynolds, Natasha Wimmer, Jeffrey Yang