English PEN’s new programme PEN Presents is currently closed for submissions, reopening January 2023.
PEN Presents supports and showcases sample translations, funding the often-unpaid work of creating samples, giving UK publishers access to titles from underrepresented languages and regions, and helping diversify the translated literature landscape.
PEN Presents is open to literary translators anywhere in the world, for proposals to create sample translations of previously untranslated works.
The call has now closed for the first round of PEN Presents is open to works of Indian literature, of any form and genre, originally published in any of the languages of India. This round is a partnership between English PEN and the British Council, as part of the British Council’s India/UK Together Season. PEN Presents will reopen for submissions for works in any language and from any region in January 2023, with the aim of becoming a long-term, permanent programme.
PEN Presents is open to translators at any stage in their career, and we particularly welcome proposals from voices underrepresented in the translation community, heritage speakers and L2 translators, and those who do not have established access to publishers and commissioning editors.
Proposals will be assessed by an independent Selection Panel of experts from across the literary sector – writers, agents, scouts, publishers, booksellers and critics – and expert translators and language specialists. 12 shortlisted applicants, selected by the Panel, will each be awarded a grant of £500 to create a 5,000-word sample translation for the proposed work. 6 of these samples will then be selected as PEN Presents winners, and showcased in an issue on the PEN Presents digital platform. English PEN will offer editorial support to selected samples and promote them to UK publishers.
PEN Presents applications will be assessed in terms of their literary quality, the strength of the proposed project, and their contribution to UK bibliodiversity.
Read more about the process, timeline and eligibility criteria.
PEN Presents awards are assessed against three criteria:
• Literary quality (40% weighting) – we aim to support the translation of literature of outstanding literary merit;
• Strength of the project (30% weighting) – we aim to support projects with the potential to be successfully published in the Anglophone market;
• Contribution to bibliodiversity (30% weighting) – we aim to support the translation of books that contribute to the diversity of the literary – books that might not otherwise be published and reach readers; from languages and regions, of forms, genres and themes, and by voices underrepresented in Anglophone publishing (see our FAQ on what we mean by ‘bibliodiversity’ here).
PEN Presents has a two-phase assessment and selection process.
Translators should submit proposals comprising elements detailed in the submission form (but not a sample translation):
• a synopsis of the book;
• a short biography of the author;
• information on sales and critical reception in the original;
• information regarding the availability of English translation rights and details on other rights sold;
• the translator’s CV;
• a rationale as to the book’s literary quality;
• a rationale as to how the book would fit in the Anglophone market; and
• a rationale on how the book would contribute to bibliodiversity.
The PEN Presents Selection Panel – an independent, cross-sector group comprising writers, agents, scouts, publishers, booksellers and critics – will consider the proposals, and select a shortlist of 12 applicants, each of whom will receive a £500 grant to create a 5,000-word sample translation, to be shared with the Selection Panel.
Shortlisted translators will then be asked to submit their 5,000-word sample, along with the respective passage of the original text. The samples will be evaluated against the assessment criteria by independent translators and language experts, who will provide reports to the Selection Panel. The Panel will consider the samples and reports, and determine the 6 projects to be showcased on the PEN Presents platform.
The 6 showcased translators will receive editorial support on their samples, and English PEN will work with the translators to connect them to commissioning editors at relevant UK publishers.
1 July 2022 – Call opens
31 July 2022 – Call closes
15 August 2022 – Shortlisted translators notified
5 September 2022 – Shortlisted translators submit sample translations
w/b 10 October 2022 – Selected translators notified
17 October 2022 – Selected translations announced
This round of PEN Presents is open to:
– translators based anywhere in the world;
– translators at any stage of their career;
– works of fiction (including short fiction, drama, poetry, children’s literature, graphic novels and illustrated literature) and non-fiction – but not purely academic work or magazines;
– works that have been published in their original language;
– works not yet published in English translation in any territory (where ‘published in English translation’ is taken to mean legally and with the consent of the rightsholder translated and published in any form);
– works by living authors;
– works of any length;
– works where English translation rights (UK or World English) are available;
– works of Indian literature, meaning:
– works originally published in any of the languages of India, including the 22 scheduled languages of India and all other languages indigenous to India; and
––works by writers who are citizens of India; and/or
––works by writers resident in India; and/or
––works by writers of Indian heritage; and.or
––works published in India by stateless persons.
Please see a full list of conditions of the awards on the application form.