The PEN America Translation Committee advocates on behalf of literary translators, working to foster a wider understanding of their art and offering professional resources for translators, publishers, critics, bloggers, and others with an interest in international literature. The committee is currently cochaired by Allison Markin Powell and Alex Zucker. Contact us at pen.translation at gmail.com.
“If I were asked to sum up in one word my reason for feeling that a Translation Committee was essential to the American Center of P.E.N.—quite apart from the obvious fact that P.E.N. is an international organization and therefore exists through translated relationships—I think that the word I would use is ‘climate.’ For translation to flourish in this or any other country as it should (as it must), an ideal climate would supply certain basic necessities: recognition of the fact that the translator is indispensable; appreciation of the difficulty of his role (that it is an art as well as a craft); proper financial return for his labors, and credit given where credit is due.” — B. J. Chute, former PEN American Center president, “The Necessity of Translation,” May 1970
Directory of Working Translators
A listing of PEN members working as translators in more than 25 different languages.
Model Contract for Literary Translations
A template of a standard publishing contract for a literary work in translation, covering copyright and reversion of rights, royalties, publicity, and other basics.
Answers to common questions regarding literary translation and publishing.
PEN/Heim Translation Fund
Grants to support the translation of book-length works of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, or drama. Read translator essays and excerpts from the 2015 PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant winners.
PEN Translation Prize
Awarded each year to honor a book-length translation from any language into English.
PEN Award for Poetry in Translation
Presented each year to recognize a book-length translation of poetry from any language into English.
PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation
Awarded every third year to a translator whose career has demonstrated a commitment to excellence through the body of his or her work.
A selection of literary journals seeking works in translation.
A list of presses, large and small, that publish works in translation.
How to Review Translations
A series of posts by critics and translators, at Words Without Borders.
The best source for literary translation events in the NYC area is Susan Bernofsky’s blog, Translationista.
“Translators, Rates, Money, and Unions”: Translation Committee cochair Alex Zucker, on the Three Percent podcast, talks about the business of literary translation.
The Business of Literary Translation: video of a four-part series copresented by the PEN America Translation Committee and the Bridge Series, hosted by the Center for Fiction. Part 1: Breaking In | Part 2: Editing | Part 3: Contracts | Part 4: Bookselling
News and Updates
Recipients of the 2016 PEN/Heim Translation Fund grants—fourteen grantees, translating from nine different languages—will be honored October 21, at the CUNY Graduate Center New York, as part of an event celebrating the legendary translator Gregory Rabassa, who passed away this year. Starting time is 6:00 p.m. and a reception will follow.
In spring 2016, the PEN America Translation Committee and the Bridge Series co-presented a series of four panel discussions on The Business of Literary Translation. The fourth and final part, on Bookselling, was held May 17 at the Center for Fiction. You can view videos of the previous panels on the Center for Fiction’s YouTube channel.