13 titles representing 10 languages from 13 territories have been shortlisted for the second round of PEN Presents, English PEN’s award for sample translations.
PEN Presents aims to fund literary translators’ work of creating samples, give publishers better access to titles from underrepresented languages and regions, and help diversify the translated literature landscape.
The 13 shortlisted projects, featuring 16 translators, have been awarded grants to create 5,000-word samples, as part of PEN Present’s aim of funding the often-unpaid work of sample translation. The PEN Presents Selection Panel – an international group of seven experts from across the literary sector – elected to award an additional project to the publicised dozen, due to the exceptional quality of the proposals. The shortlisted works include novels, short stories, and a graphic novel. They are:
- Madeleine Arenivar for a translation from the Spanish of Yuliana Ortiz Ruano’s Carnival Fever (Ecuador)
- Maren Baudet-Lackner for a translation from the French of Osvalde Lewat’s The Aquatics (Cameroon)
- James Bennett for a translation from the Spanish of Fernando Molano’s View from a Sidewalk (Colombia)
- Ibrahim Fawzy for a translation from the Arabic of Khaled Nasrallah’s The White Line of Night (Kuwait)
- Kayvan Tahmasebian and Rebecca Ruth Gould for a translation from the Persian of Hormoz Shahdadi’s Night of Terror (Iran)
- Jack Hargreaves for a translation from the Taiwanese Mandarin of Chiang-sheng Kuo’s A Time No More (Taiwan)
- Jacqueline Leung for a translation from the Chinese of Hon Lai-chu’s Mending Bodies (Hong Kong)
- Rachael McGill for a translation from the French of Sani’s The Dendi Warrior (Niger)
- Nhkum Lu and Lucas Stewart for a translation from the Kachin of the anthology Kachin: Stories from an Uncivil War (Myanmar)
- Arthur Reiji Morris for a translation from the Japanese of Lee Yongduk’s Before You Kill Me with a Bamboo Spear
- Yuki Tejima for a translation from the Japanese of Hitomi Kanehara’s Unsocial Distance (Japan)
- Tiffany Tsao and Norman Erikson Pasaribu for a translation from the Indonesian of Ziggy Zezsyazeoviennazabrizkie’s Take Care, Noisy Lane (Indonesia)
- Austin Wagner from a translation from the Hungarian of Ádám Nádasdy’s The Bearded Neptune (Hungary)
This round of PEN Presents was open to proposals for translations of works in any language and from any geography, of any era, form, genre and style. The round is in partnership with Translating Women, and supported by an Open Innovation Platform grant from the University of Exeter and the Arts and Humanities Research Council project Changing the Landscape: Diversity and Translated Fiction in the UK Publishing Industry.
Six samples will be chosen from the shortlist by the PEN Presents Selection Panel to be showcased in an issue on the PEN Presents platform, an online catalogue of the most outstanding, original, and bibliodiverse literature not yet published in English translation. They will be given editorial support from English PEN and promoted to UK publishers.
Will Forrester, Translation and International Manager at English PEN, said:
‘It’s telling that the Selection Panel have chosen 13 projects for this shortlist: we received an extraordinary number of outstanding proposals, and even the most exceptional could not be contained by a round dozen awards. It’s also telling that these 13 projects come from 13 different territories, and almost as many languages: it speaks to the volume and diversity of first-rate literature not yet translated into English, and the pressing need to support the talented translators poised to convey these works across linguistic borders. We are excited to be able to support these translators, and to read the samples they will create – the first glimpses of what we’re sure will soon be full-length works capturing the interests of English-language publishers and readers.’
Preti Taneja, Co-chair of English PEN’s Translation Advisory Group, said:
‘From a great number of extremely compelling proposals, the Panel have chosen 13 outstanding projects that we found most unforgettable in their formal approach, their storytelling and voice; from languages across the world. I’m particularly delighted at the range of LGBTQ+ writers of colour, and women translators and authors in our selection. Some of these pitches were so outstanding, I felt bereft when I finished them because I now must wait to read the books. So I look forward to the samples each translator produces, and I know it’s going to be lively as the Panel undertakes the very difficult task of selecting the final six. Congratulations to the shortlist!’
PEN Presents was launched following a 2021 research collaboration between English PEN and the Translating Women project, which consulted with translators, agents, publishers and literature organisations, and found a widespread desire for an initiative supporting and showcasing sample translations.