Among 139 Funded Projects, a PEN/Heim Translation Grant Has Gone to an Arabic Book Just Once

As noted in a Sunday Submissions call last month, PEN/Heim’s 2017 grant cycle opened June 1 and is set to close August 15:

submit-headerSince the fund’s 2004 launch, it’s provided grants ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 to a total of 139 translation projects from “over 35” languages. Nine translations from the German, for instance. Nine from French. Eight from Chinese. Seven from Spanish. Three from Swedish (all in 2006). Three from Italian, although, beginning in 2017, PEN will also offer a special PEN Grant for the Translation of Italian Literature. Two from Hindi, and two from Urdu. One from Latin.

And one from Arabic, in the debut grant year: Elizabeth Winslow for her translation from the Arabic of The War Works Hard by Dunya Mikhail. It was published by New Directions in 2005.

The War Works Hard (which was a poetry collection that worked hard) went on to be short-listed for Canada’s Griffin Poetry Prize in 2006. It was also named one of the 25 Books to Remember of 2005 by the New York Public Library.

Why haven’t there been more grants for Arabic literary projects? In 2015, there were a paltry four Arabic applications among the year’s record-breaking 226. No Arabic-English projects received grants. All applicants for the 2016 PEN/Heim Translation Fund should have received an update about the status of their application before July 1, 2016, but no public announcement has yet been made.

The PEN/Heim Translation Fund should be a way to support translation projects that aren’t, you know, a novella by Saddam Hussein.

You still have plenty of time to submit for a 2017 grant. You can do so here.

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Categories: submissions, translation

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  1. Dear Literary Prizes, Don’t Honor That Wall – Arabic Literature (in English)
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