Applications Open for Kenyon Review’s Polyglot Translation Workshop!

From July 11 – 23, 2021, the Kenyon Review is debuting the Kenyon Review Literary Translation Workshop exclusively online! Designed for aspiring and mid-career translators, this intensive and creative writing opportunity will help you find and refine your literary voice.

Participants will benefit from: 

  • Collaborating and expanding their network within a vibrant national and international literary community
  • Participation in online Kenyon Review readings
  • Revising and refining writing for publication in literary journals both online and in print

The online workshop will be conducted seminar-style in synchronous classes and breakout groups three days a week; instructors will focus on literary translation as a cross-cultural, creative endeavor, using theoretical readings and examples of works of master translators as guides. Plus: ALTA’s Program Manager Kelsi Vanada and former Travel Fellow Bruna Dantas Lobato are confirmed as fellows!

Find out more about how to apply on the website. Admissions are rolling.

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Meet the 2021 ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorship Program Mentors!

L to R: Kareem James Abu-Zeid; David McKay; Jack Jung; Janet Hong; Jeremy Tiang (credit: Glenda Hydler); Julia Sanches; Mike Fu; Marian Schwartz

We want you to meet the 2021 Emerging Translator Mentorship Program mentors! The ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorship Program is designed to establish and facilitate a close working relationship between an experienced translator and an emerging translator on a project selected by the emerging translator. ALTA’s Emerging Translator Mentorship Program was founded by former ALTA board member Allison M. Charette. The applications for the 2021 mentorship program cycle are open on our Submittable page until 11:59pm PT on November 30.

This year, ALTA is excited to offer eight mentorships:

  • Non-language-specific, non-genre-specific, with mentor Kareem James Abu-Zeid 
  • Dutch prose, with mentor David McKay 
  • Korean poetry, with mentor Jack Jung 
  • Korean prose, with mentor Janet Hong
  • Literature from Singapore, with mentor Jeremy Tiang
  • Literature from Singapore (for Singaporean nationals), with mentor Julia Sanches
  • Prose from Taiwan, with mentor Mike Fu 
  • Russian prose, with mentor Marian Schwartz 

Learn more about the mentors below! And view our webpage for more information, our submissions portal to submit, and find answers to common questions at the mentorship FAQ. If you want to see what former mentees have accomplished, follow this link. You can watch a live streamed reading from the 2020 mentees here


Kareem James Abu-Zeid is a freelance translator of poets and novelists from across the Arab world, including Adonis, Najwan Darwish, Rabee Jaber, and Dunya Mikhail. His work has earned him an NEA grant (2018), PEN Center USA’s Translation Prize (2017), Poetry Magazine’s translation prize (2014), the Northern California Book Award in Poetry (2015), and residencies from the Banff Centre and the Lannan Foundation. He has a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley, and has been a Fulbright Research Fellow in Germany, and a CASA Fellow in Egypt. The online hub for his work is www.kareemjamesabuzeid.com.

David McKay is an award-winning translator who lives in The Hague, best known for his translations of novels by the Flemish author Stefan Hertmans. His recent work includes a new joint translation with Ina Rilke of the nineteenth-century Dutch masterpiece Max Havelaar (NYRB Classics, 2019), which was shortlisted for the Oxford Weidenfeld Prize, Cyriel Buysse’s early 20th-century Flemish novella The Aunts (to be published by Snuggly Books, November 2020), and Jan Brokken’s The Just (Scribe, planned for 2021). For more information, see www.openbooktranslation.com.

Jack Jung is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was a Truman Capote Fellow. He was born in Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States. He received his BA in English from Harvard, and an MA in Korean Language and Literature from Seoul National University. His translations of Korean poet Yi Sang’s poetry and prose are published in Yi Sang: Selected Works by Wave Books.

Janet Hong is a writer and translator of literary fiction and graphic novels based in Vancouver, Canada. She received the 2018 TA First Translation Prize for her translation of Han Yujoo’s The Impossible Fairy Tale, which was also a finalist for both the 2018 PEN Translation Prize and the 2018 National Translation Award. Her recent translations include Ha Seong-nan’s Bluebeard’s First Wife, Ancco’s Nineteen, Yeon-Sik Hong’s Umma’s Table, and Keum-Suk Gendry Kim’s Grass.

Jeremy Tiang has translated more than twenty books from Chinese, including novels by Zhang Yueran, Yeng Pway Ngon, Chan Ho-Kei, Li Er, and Yan Ge. He also writes and translates plays, and was named the London Book Fair’s inaugural Translator of the Fair in 2019. His novel State of Emergency won the Singapore Literature Prize in 2018. He lives in Queens, NY, where he is a member of the literary translation collective Cedilla & Co.

Julia Sanches is a translator of Portuguese, Spanish, and Catalan. She has translated works by Susana Moreira Marques, Eva Baltasar, Daniel Galera, and Geovani Martins, among others. Her shorter translations have appeared in various magazines and periodicals, including Words without Borders, Granta, Tin House, and Guernica. A founding member of Cedilla & Co., Julia sits on the Council of the Authors Guild.

Mike Fu is a Chinese-English translator, editor, and writer. His translation of Stories of the Sahara by the late Taiwanese writer Sanmao was published by Bloomsbury in 2020 and has received critical acclaim from the Paris Review, the Asian Review of Books, the Christian Science Monitor, the TLSAsymptote, and other venues. He is a Cofounder and Editor of The Shanghai Literary Review, as well as an editorial contributor to bilingual art criticism magazine Heichi (Beijing) and diasporic cultural platform Banana (New York). As a university administrator, he has worked in global academic programming at Columbia University and Parsons School of Design.

Marian Schwartz translates Russian fiction and nonfiction. Her most recent publication is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s March 1917: The Red Wheel, Node III, book 2, named the 2019 Foreword INDIES 2019 Silver Winner for History. Her translation of Nina Berberova’s first novel, The Last and the First, is forthcoming from Pushkin Press. She is the recipient of numerous honors, including two NEA Translation Fellowships, the 2014 Read Russia Prize for Contemporary Literature, and the 2018 Linda Gaboriau Award for Translation awarded by the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. She is a Past President of ALTA.


These mentorships are offered by ALTA in partnership with Amazon Crossing, the Dutch Foundation for LiteratureLiterature Translation Institute of Korea, the Taipei Cultural Center in New York, and the Russian Federation Institute for Literary Translation.

Submit here by 11:59pm PT on November 30!

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Announcing the Winner of the 2020 National Translation Award in Poetry: Hysteria by Kim Yideum, trans. Jake Levine, Soeun Seo, and Hedgie Choi, pub. Action Books

October 15, 2020—The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) is pleased to announce the winner of the 2020 National Translation Award (NTA) in Poetry! 2020 marks the twenty-second year for the NTA, and the sixth year to award separate prizes in poetry and prose. The NTA, which is administered by ALTA, is the only national award for translated fiction, poetry, and literary nonfiction that includes a rigorous examination of both the source text and its relation to the finished English work. This year’s judges for poetry are Ilya Kaminsky, Lisa Katz, and Farid Matuk.

This year’s winner was awarded at the ALTA’s 43rd annual conference, In Between, the first ALTA conference to be held virtually. The ceremony included a focus on the 2020 shortlist, presented by judge Lisa Katz, and the winners were featured in conversation with judge Farid Matuk. The announcement was made on October 15, 2020 on the ALTA virtual conference platform Crowdcast, and is viewable there through 2020, and will be viewable after that at the ALTA YouTube channel. The winners will be awarded a $2,500 prize.

Winner: 2020 National Translation Award in Poetry

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Hysteria
by Kim Yideum
translated from Korean by Jake Levine, Soeun Seo, and Hedgie Choi
(Action Books)

One of the co-translators of this good-humored and confrontational book notes in his afterword that the style of Korean poet Kim Yideum is “intentionally excessive . . . and irrational.” Her speaker is a hipster who makes brash statements about quotidian experiences that may occur in any crowded city. In the title poem, a woman being groped on the subway imagines her revenge: “I want to kill the motherfucker. . . . If only I could go to the sandy beach on the red coast, moonlit. There, beside the cool waters, I would lay him down. If only.” Yideum turns her glance on her specifically Korean milieu as well. An intriguing, illuminating volume.

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L to R: Jake Levine, Soeun Seo, Hedgie Choi

Jake Levine is an American translator, poet, and scholar. He works as an assistant professor of creative writing at Keimyung University and as a lecturer at the Literature Translation Institute of Korea. He edits the Korean poetry series Moon Country at Black Ocean. Previously he served as the editor-in-chief of Sonora Review, as the poetry editor of Spork Press, and as an assistant editor at Acta Koreana. His co-translation with Soeun Seo of Kim Minjeong’s Beautiful and Useless (Black Ocean) and a book he edited and co-translated, The Poems of Hwang Yuwon, Ha Jaeyoun, and Seo Dae-kyung (Vagabond Press) will both be out this fall. You can find him at http://jakelevine.org

Soeun Seo is a poet and translator from South Korea and a current fellow at the Michener Center for Writers. They co-translated Kim Yideum’s Hysteria (Action Books, 2019) and is currently co-translating Kim Min Jeong’s Beautiful and Useless which will be coming out in October 2020 with Black Ocean.

Hedgie Choi is a fellow at the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, Texas.

The 2021 National Translation Award in Poetry submissions portal will be opened in January 2021.

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Announcing the Winner of the 2020 National Translation Award in Prose: The Cheffe by Marie NDiaye, trans. Jordan Stump, pub. Alfred A. Knopf

October 15, 2020—The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) is pleased to announce the winner of the 2020 National Translation Award (NTA) in Prose! 2020 marks the twenty-second year for the NTA, and the sixth year to award separate prizes in poetry and prose. The NTA, which is administered by ALTA, is the only national award for translated fiction, poetry, and literary nonfiction that includes a rigorous examination of both the source text and its relation to the finished English work. This year’s judges for prose are Amaia Gabantxo, Emmanuel D. Harris II, and William Maynard Hutchins.

This year’s winner was awarded at the ALTA’s 43rd annual conference, In Between, the first ALTA conference to be held virtually. The ceremony included a focus on the 2020 shortlist, presented by judge Emmanuel D. Harris, and the winner was featured in conversation with judge Amaia Gabantxo. The announcement was made on October 15, 2020 on the ALTA virtual conference platform Crowdcast, and is viewable there through 2020, and will be viewable after that at the ALTA YouTube channel. The winner will be awarded a $2,500 prize.

Winner: 2020 National Translation Award in Prose

The Cheffe: A Cook’s Novel
by Marie NDiaye
translated from French by Jordan Stump
(Alfred A. Knopf)

Whereas the applause soon turned to glorification of the Cheffe herself, and then ventured into the secret world of her presumed intentions, a longing to know her truest being, the only possible source for those sublime dishes.

The translator informs us that Cheffe is a new word in French, meaning “a female chef.” The novel, by French Senegalese Ndiaye, deftly parleys the language of culinary delight with the subtleties of nonverbal communication between a businesswoman and her challenging daughter. The enchanting text that results uncovers the histories behind an otherwise very public cheffe and her personal realities.

Jordan Stump is a Professor of French at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, specializing in twentieth and twenty-first century literature and literary translation.  He is the author of two studies of the writing of Raymond Queneau, Naming and Unnaming and The Other Book; he is also the English translator of some thirty works of  (mostly) contemporary French and Francophone literature, by authors such as Eric Chevillard, Marie Redonnet, and Antoine Volodine.  His most recent translations are Marie NDiaye’s That Time of Year (Two Lines Press) and Scholastique Mukasonga’s Igifu (Archipelago).

The 2021 National Translation Award in Prose submissions portal will be opened in January 2021.

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Announcing the Winner of the 2020 Italian Prose in Translation Award: I Am God by Giacomo Sartori, trans. Frederika Randall, pub. Restless Books

October 15, 2020—The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) is pleased to announce the winner of the 2020 Italian Prose in Translation Award! Starting in 2015, the Italian Prose in Translation Award (IPTA) recognizes the importance of contemporary Italian prose (fiction and literary non-fiction) and promotes the translation of Italian works into English. This prize is awarded annually to a translator of a recent work of Italian prose (fiction or literary non-fiction). This year’s judges are Jeanne Bonner, Richard Dixon, and Antony Shugaar.

This year’s winner was awarded at the ALTA’s 43rd annual conference, In Between, the first ALTA conference to be held virtually. The ceremony included a focus on the 2020 shortlist, presented by judges Jeanne Bonner and Richard Dixon, and the winner and a tribute to her were highlighted by judge Antony Shugaar, followed by a brief statement by Tommaso Jucker, son of the winner. The announcement was made on October 15, 2020 on the ALTA virtual conference platform Crowdcast, and is viewable there through 2020, and will be viewable after that at the ALTA YouTube channel. The winner will be awarded a $5,000 prize.

Winner: 2020 Italian Prose in Translation Award

I Am God
By Giacomo Sartori
Translated from the Italian by Frederika Randall
(Restless Books)

God has an existential crisis and falls in love with the unlikeliest of humans. Why, he asks, with eight billion to look after, should I go for a geneticist who also happens to be a fanatical atheist? Being all-powerful is losing its appeal but would life as a mortal be any better? Through the eyes of our omniscient narrator we look at the immensity of human insignificance as he meditates on beauty, goodness, the environment, the cosmos and our miserable attempts at religion. Sartori’s deliciously absurd humor is magnificently translated by Frederika Randall who catches his mocking voice with great ingenuity, delivering well-honed one liners with impeccable timing and all the skill of a standup comic.

The judges had the following to say about Frederika Randall, who passed away in May 2020:

Perhaps that skill in translating both humor and absurdity—two sides of the same coin—was an especially useful asset in Randall’s work as a political journalist. She wrote about her own work as a translator, “I like to work on fiction and non-fiction that’s just this side of untranslatable. Books that challenge what non-Italians know about Italian life, or challenge what we think constitutes a memoir, a novel, a work of history.” It is tempting to see her translation work as a continuation of journalism by other means. In the aftermath of her death on May 12, The Nation published an appreciation of her work: “long-time Rome correspondent […] a mordantly funny, never-in-the-least-dispassionate observer […] an acute chronicler of the postwar death spiral of Italian democracy.” Frederika Randall covered Italy—a country that’s just this side of untranslatable—as a journalist and as a translator (translation being a form of journalism, and journalism being a form of translation). She did both with great and uncommon mastery.

Frederika Randall (1948–2020) was a writer, reporter, and translator. Among her numerous translations are Ippolito Nievo’s Confessions of an Italian  (2015); Giacomo Sartori’s I Am God (2019), and his forthcoming Bug (2021), both published by Restless Books; and two novels by Guido Morselli, The Communist (2017) and Dissipatio H. G. (2020). Randall received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and PEN/Heim Translation Fund and was awarded the 2011 Cundill History Prize, with Sergio Luzzatto, for the English translation of Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age. She died in Rome in May 2020. (Bio from Restless Books.)

A tribute to Frederika Randall’s legacy may be found at The Arkansas International, including a tribute penned by Giacomo Sartori, author of I Am God, in translation by Clarissa Botsford.

The 2021 Italian Prose in Translation Award submissions portal will be opened in January 2021.

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