English PEN wants to make great literature available to all. The Writers in Translation programme champions literature beyond national and linguistic borders.
Our mission is simple: We want more international literature to be available in English, and we want more readers to read books from around the world. Currently, only 4% of literature published in the UK is translated. That means that readers don’t have access to some of the best writing not originally published in English. With our programme of grants, events, and campaigning, we’re here to change that. We aim to create an environment in which reading books from other countries is as normal as reading a book by a UK writer.
English PEN currently offers two financial awards to support publishers and translators who want to reach an English-speaking audience.
- PEN Translates awards grants to UK publishers for the translation costs of literature into English.
- PEN Presents helps literary translators to champion exciting books from around the world to be published in the UK.
We run a series of events with writers from around the world, and organise programmes to raise awareness of translated literature.
- Our PEN Atlas event series features international writers and translators.
- We mark International Translation Day with an annual day of discussions at the British Library.
- In partnership with the London Book Fair, we programme the Literary Translation Centre at the Fair each year and are responsible for a series of seminars and discussions.
The PEN Atlas is an online gateway to a world of literature. We post literary dispatches and interviews from around the world, showcasing the very best international writers. We bring new insights into the literary landscape that exists beyond the borders of one country.
We feature all of our PEN Translates award winners on the World Bookshelf, an online collection of the best contemporary literature in translation.
The Writers in Translation Committee is made up of writers, translators, publishers, literary journalists, scouts and agents. The current members are:
Chair: Sarah Ardizzone (translator)
C0-chair: Ros Schwartz (translator, Translators Association)
Raficq Abdulla (writer), Alev Adil (writer), Arifa Akbar (editor and festival director), Pete Ayrton (publisher), Rebecca Carter (literary agent), Rose Cole (bookseller), Miranda France (writer, translator), Lynn Gaspard (publisher), Emma House (Publishers Association), Toby Lichtig (literary editor), Laura Macaulay (publisher), Zain Mahmood (bookseller), Jonathan Ruppin (digital publisher), Rebecca Servadio (literary scout), Rachel Van Riel (reader development)
English PEN’s Writers in Translation programme was established in 2005 with Bloomberg and is supported by Arts Council England. English PEN is the founding centre for the worldwide PEN movement, which in 2015 adopted the Quebec Declaration on Literary Translation and Translators, a vital set of principles which all PEN centres have committed to uphold in our work.