PEN Translates FAQ | What do we mean by ‘bibliodiversity’?

Alongside literary quality and strength of the publishing project, submissions to PEN Translates – our grant for literary translations – are assessed on their contribution to UK bibliodiversity.

Bibliodiversity references the variety and diversity of literature available in a region or country. The books supported by PEN Translates contribute to or enhance the UK’s bibliodiversity in a number of ways. Books might:

  • Be translated from a language underrepresented in UK publishing
  • Emerge from a country or culture underrepresented in UK publishing
  • Be of a form or genre underrepresented in UK publishing
  • Offer new or previously elided perspectives on existing or already-represented themes, contexts or cultures
  • Come from and represent less-heard voices – from both authors and translators whose perspectives and identities are less-represented in UK publishing
  • Address themes that are underrepresented in UK publishing.

There are, of course, further ways in which books might enhance or contribute to bibliodiversity. Often, many of these will intersect.

Publishers should also note that ‘literary quality’ is the highest-weighted criterion for assessment (40%), and that ‘strength of the publishing project’ and ‘contribution to UK bibliodiversity’ are equally weighted (30%).

Books that receive grants will not only contribute to the UK literary landscape’s diversity, but also be outstanding pieces of literature with excellent project and marketing proposals.

Publishers are encouraged to consider different ways in which their projects might contribute to bibliodiversity when submitting an application to PEN Translates. If you would like to discuss or clarify this term further, you can email

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