The PEN/Heim Translation Fund was established in the summer of 2003 by an endowed gift of $730,000 from Michael Henry Heim and Pricilla Heim, 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 international literature in English. As of 2015, each grant recipient receives a copy of The Man Between: Michael Henry Heim and a Life in Translation, generously provided by Open Letter Books. As of 2017, under the administering of the PEN/Heim Translation Fund, PEN America will also offer the PEN Grant for the English Translation of Italian Literature. From the pool of annual submissions, judges for the PEN/Heim Translation Fund will select one project of narrative prose that has been translated into English from the Italian to receive this award, which will come with a $5,000 prize. Any applicant who submits to the PEN/Heim Translation Fund with a project that is a translation of narrative prose from the Italian into English will be automatically considered for the PEN Grant for the Translation of Italian Literature.
Thanks to the generosity of Michael Henry Heim and Pricilla Heim’s endowment, PEN America has awarded grants to almost 200 winning projects. From 2009, the Fund’s annual contribution for grant awards has been augmented by support from Amazon. The Fund has been uniquely successful in finding publishers for major international works, encouraging younger translators to enter the field, and introducing English-speaking readers to new and exciting voices. All other criteria being equal, preference is given to translators at the beginning of their career, and to works by underrepresented writers working in underrepresented languages.
Over the 16 years of its existence, the Fund has given grants of $2,000–$4,000 to nearly 200 translations from over 35 languages, including Armenian, Basque, Estonian, Farsi, Finland-Swedish, Lithuanian and Mongolian, as well as French, Spanish, German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic. Among the 108 projects awarded grants in the Fund’s first 13 years of operation (2004–2016), 91 (nearly 70 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/Heim Translation Fund projects have won or been shortlisted for major literary awards.
Award-winning Translations supported by PEN/Heim Grants
Winner of the 2009 Northern California Book Award for Translation
Winner of the R. R. Hawkins Award from the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the APA, Outstanding Professional, Reference or Scholarly Book of 2007 and Winner of the 2007 National Jewish Book Award for Poetry
Finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry
Winner of the 2006 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize from the Goethe-Institut Chicago
For the 2019 cycle, the Translation Fund received a large number of applications—237 in total—from a wide array of languages of origin, genres, and time periods. From this vast field of applicants, the Fund’s Advisory Board has selected 11 projects, spanning 8 different languages, including French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Indonesian, Chinese, Danish, and Hungarian. Of the winning translations, 64 percent are by female translators, and 45 percent are translations of books written by female authors. PEN America has awarded grants to nearly 200 winning projects to date and you can search the full list of recipients below.
Bruna Dantas Lobato’s translation from the Portuguese of Moldy Strawberries: Stories by Caio Fernando Abreu
Stephen Epstein’s translation from the Indonesian of The Wandering: Choose Your Own Red Shoes Adventure by Intan Paramaditha
Misha Hoekstra’s translation from the Danish of New Passengers by Tine Høeg
Lucas Klein’s translation from the Chinese of Words as Grains: New and Selected Poems of Duo Duo
Simon Leser’s translation from the French of Of Our Wounded Brothers by Joseph Andras
Emma Lloyd’s translation from the Spanish of Of Pearls and Scars by Pedro Lemebel
Ottilie Mulzet’s translation from the Hungarian of Gábor Schein’s Swedish (2nd, revised edition)
Catherine Nelson’s translation from the Spanish of Tea Rooms: Working Women by Luisa Carnés
Julia Powers’s translation from the Portuguese of Selected Poems of Hilda Hilst
Lara Vergnaud’s translation from the French of The Ardent Swarm by Yamen Manai
Hope Campbell Gustafson’s translation from the Italian of The Commander of the River by Ubah Cristina Ali Farah
- 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)
Philip Boehm for his translation from the German of Settlement by Christoph Hein
Metropolitan Books, 2008
Peter Cole for his translation from the Hebrew of The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, c. 950-1492
Princeton University Press, 2007
Forrest Gander with Kent Johnson for their translation from the Spanish of The Night by Jaime Saenz
Princeton University Press, 2007
Idra Novey for her translation from the Portugese of The Clean Shirt of It by Paulo Henriques Britto
BOA Editions Ltd., 2007
Joonseong “Jason” Park for his translation from the Korean of Diary of a Vagabond by Song Young
Codhill Press, 2008
Rachel Tzvia Back for her translation from the Hebrew of Selected Poetry and Drama by Lea Goldberg
Toby’s Press Hebrew Classics, 2005
Susan Bernofsky for her translation from the German of The Old Child and Other Stories by Jenny Erpenbeck
New Directions, 2005
Karen Emmerich for her translation from the Greek of Poems (1945-1971) by Miltos Sachtouris
Archipelago Books, 2006
Deborah Hoffman for her translation from the Russian of The Littlest Enemies: Children in the Shadow of the Gulag edited by Samuilovich Vilenskii
Slavica Publishers, 2009
Elizabeth Macklin for her translation from the Basque of Meanwhile Take My Hand: Poems by Kirmen Uribe
Graywolf Press, 2007
Laima Sruoginis for her translation from the Lithuanian of My Voice Betrays Me by Vanda Juknaite
East European Monographs, 2007
Paul Vincent for his translation from the Dutch of Summer in Termurin by Louis Paul Boon
Dalkey Archive Press, 2006
Johannes Göransson for his translation from the Swedish of Ideals Clearance by Henry Parland
Ugly Duckling Press, 2007
Nicola Harman for her translation from the Swedish of Banished! by Han Dong
University of Hawaii Press, 2009
Sawako Nakayasu for her translation from the Japanese of For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnutby Takashi Hiraide
New Directions, 2008
Tegan Raleigh for her translation from the French of The Tongue’s Blood Does Not Run Dry: Algerian Stories by Assia Djebar
Seven Stories Press, 2006
Constantine Rusanov for his translation from the Lithuanian of The Junction by Tomas Venclova
Bloodaxe Books, 2008
Stepan Simek for his translation from the Czech of Theremin by Petr Zelenka; Three Sisters 2002.CZ by Iva Volánková
Czech Plays: Seven New Works, CUNY Press, 2009
Susan Bernofsky for her translation from the German of The Assistant by Robert Walser
New Directions, 2007; Penguin Classics, 2008
Paul Olchváry for his translation from the Hungarian of The Ninth by Ferenc Barnás
Northwestern University Press, 2009
Bernard Adams for his translation from the Hungarian of Kornel Esti by Deszö Kosztolányi
New Directions, 2011
Jeffrey Angles for his translation from the Japanese of Twelve Perspectives by Mutsuo Takahashi
University of Minnesota Press, 2012
Sean Redmond for his translation from the Latin of Another Holy Land: Felix Fabri’s Voyage to Medieval Egypt by Felix Fabri
American University Press of Cairo, 2010
Damion Searls for his translation from the Dutch of The Freeloader and Other Stories by Nescio
NYRB Classics, 2011
Simon Wickham-Smith for his translation from the Mongolian of The Battle for Our Land Has Begun by Ochirbatyn Dashbalbar
Ulaanbatar, Mongolia: Dashbalbar Foundation, 2008
Geoffrey Michael Goshgarian for his translation from the Armenian of The Remnants by Hagop Oshagan
Gomidas Institute, 2013
Tess Lewis for her translation from the German of Maybe This Time by Alois Hotschnig
Peirene Press, 2011
Frederika Randal for her translation from the Italian of Deliver Us from Evil by Luigi Meneghello
Northwestern University Press, 2011
Chantal Wright for her translation from the German of A Handful of Water by Tzveta Sofronieva
White Wine Press, 2012
David Hull for his translation from the Chinese of Waverings by Mao Dun
Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2014
Bilal Tanweer for his translation from the Urdu of Love in Chakiwara (And Other Such Adventures) by Muhammad Khalid Akhtar
Forthcoming from Picador India, November 2016
Steve Bradbury for his translation from the Chinese of Salsa: A Collection of Poems by Hsia Yu
Zephyr Press, 2014
Annmarie S. Drury for her translation from the Swahili of Stray Truths: A Collection of Poemsby Euphrase Kezilahabi
Michigan State University Press, November 2015
Diane Nemec Ignasher for her translation from the Russian of Paranoia by Victor Martinovich
Northwestern University Press, 2013
Chenxin Jiang for her translation from the Chinese of Memories of the Cowshed by Ji Xianlin
New York Review of Books, January 2016
Catherine Schelbert for her translation from the German of Flametti, or the Dandyism of the Poor by Hugo Ball
Wakefield Press, 2014
Joel Streicker for his translation from the Spanish of Birds in the Mouth by Samanta Schweblin
Electric Literature, 2012
Musharraf Ali Farooqi for his translation from the Urdu of Hoshruba by Muhammad Husain Jah and Ahmed Husain Qamar
Urdu Project, 2009
Nathanaël (Nathalie Stephens) for her translation from the French of The Mausoleum of Lovers Journals, 1976-1991 by Hervé Guibert
Nightboat Books, 2014
Isabel Cole for her translation from the German of At the Burning Abyss by Franz Fühmann
Seagull Books, June 2017
Chloe Garcia Roberts for her translation from the Chinese of Escalating Derangements of My Contemporaries: Miscellanea by Li Shangyin
New Directions, 2014
Edward Gauvin for his translation from the French of The Conductor and Other Tales by Jean Ferry
Wakefield Press, 2013
Eleanor Goodman for her translation from the Chinese of Something Crosses My Mind: the Selected Poems of Wang Xiaoni
Zephyr Press, 2014
Marilyn Hacker for her translation from the French of The Bridges of Budapest by Jean-Paul de Dadelsen
Forthcoming from Yale University Press/Margellos World Republic of Letters
Lara Vergnaud for her translation from the French of France, Story of Childhood by Zahia Rahmani
Yale University Press (The Margellos World Republic of Letters), May 2016
Eric M. B. Becker for his translation from the Portuguese of Selected Stories by Mia Couto
Biblioasis under the title Rain and Other Stories, January 2017
Paul Hoover for his translation from the Spanish of Nightmare Running on a Meadow of Absolute Light by María Baranda
Shearsman Books, April 2017
Philip Metres and Dimitri Psurtsev for their translation from the Russian of I Burned at the Feast: Selected Poems of Arseny Tarkovsky
Cleveland State University Poetry Center, April 2015
Miranda Richmond Mouillot for her translation from the French of The Kites by Romain Gary
Sholeh Wolpe for her translation from the Persian of The Conference of Birds by Farid ud-Din Attar
W.W. Norton, Winter 2017
Allison Charette for her translation from the French of Beyond the Rice Fields by Naivo
Restless Books, 2017
Stephan Delbos and Tereza Novická for their translation from the Czech of The Absolute Gravedigger by Vítězslav Nezval
Twisted Spoon Press, 2016
Rajiv Mohabir for his translation from the Awadhi of Holi Songs of Demerara by Lalbihari Sharma
Kaya Press, 2018
Gabriel Amor for his translation from the Spanish of Juana I by Ana Arzoumanian
Forthcoming from Kenning Editions
Ellen Cassedy for her translation from the Yiddish of On the Landing: Stories by Yenta Mash
Forthcoming from Northern Illinois University Press, September 2018
ELIGIBILITY AND SUBMISSION GUIDELINES
Submissions for the 2020 grant cycle are accepted from April 1, 2019 – June 1, 2019. Apply here >>
- The PEN/Heim 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.
- Works should be translations-in-progress, as the grant aims to provide support for completion.
- 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.
- Works with multiple translators, literary criticism, and scholarly or technical texts do not qualify.
- 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.
- Please note that projects that have been previously submitted and have not received a grant are unlikely to be reconsidered in a subsequent year.
- Projects may have up to two translators.
- Translators may only submit one project per year.
Please apply here. You will need:
1. The application, with all items completed:
- A one- to two-page, single-spaced statement outlining the work and describing its importance.
- A biography and bibliography of the author, including information on translations of his or her work into other languages.
- A CV of the translator, no longer than three pages.
- If the book is not in the public domain and the project is not yet under contract, please include a photocopy of the copyright notice from the book published in its original language (the copyright notice is a line including the character ©, a date, and the name of the copyright holder, which appears as part of the front matter in every book), and a letter from the copyright holder stating that English-language rights to the book are available. A letter or copy of an email from the copyright holder is sufficient.
- If the translation is currently under contract with a publisher, please submit a copy of the contract.
2. A 10–12-page, single-spaced sample of the translation
3. The same passage in the original language (and, if the work has been previously translated, the same passage in the earlier version).
4. Please note that applicants are no longer asked to submit a hard copy form of their application.
5. Apply here.
Please direct any questions to [email protected].