PEN-supported translations – a match for English language titles

English PEN has published an evaluation of its first grant-giving programme, PEN Promotes, which has supported literary translation since 2005

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The PEN Promotes programme, which ran from 2005 to 2016, gave a total of 96 promotion grants to 28 different UK publishers, most of which were small independents.  It was funded by Bloomberg.  Award-winning titles include The Iraqi Christ by Hassan Blasim (translated by Jonathan Wright), The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck (translated by Susan Bernofsky) and The Armies by Evelio Rosero (translated by Anne McLean) – all of which won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.

Since 2012, the Arts Council England-funded programme PEN Translates has supported publishers’ translation costs.

Key findings include:

  • PEN Promotes titles outperformed other translated titles from the same publisher
  • PEN-supported translations perform just as well as English language titles
  • A majority of publishers surveyed believe the market for translated titles has grown since 2005
  • Four in every five publishers already involve the translator in the marketing of a book, a practice that English PEN has encouraged

The report, which was researched and written by Erica Jarnes (English PEN’s Writers in Translation Programme Manager until October 2016) concludes with a recommendation that PEN Promotes evolves into a more flexible grant that will empower publishers to take more risks in promoting their translated titles.

Commenting on the report, English PEN’s director Jo Glanville said:

We are proud of the crucial role that this programme has played over the last decade, introducing outstanding writers to UK readers and demonstrating that translated literature can be just as popular as English language books. We are immensely grateful to Bloomberg for its support for the programme since 2005.  This rigorous evaluation of PEN Promotes sets a clear strategy for the future: our challenge now is to identify a funder who can offer long-term support for a new grant-giving programme based on the report’s recommendations.

Download the report

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