Brazil Commits $7.5m to “The Internationalization of Brazilian Literature”

In Growth Markets by Maria Fernanda Rodrigues

By the 2013 Frankfurt Book Fair the Brazilian government wants to have funded the translation of 250 books into foreign languages

By Maria Fernandes Rodrigues

Galeno Amorim

Galeno Amorim, President, National Library Foundation

SAO PAOLO: Last year Brazil’s Nation Library Foundation’s “Program for Supporting The Translation and Publishing of Brazilian Authors Abroad” invested R$536,000 [US$343,000] with foreign publishers to support literary translation. This resulted in 68 different books published in 18 countries, including Spain, Germany, England, France, Italy, the United States, Argentina, Mexico, Israel, Croatia among others.

This sum is nearly eight times higher than 2009, when the Foundation spent just R$70,000 [US$44,871] to fund the translation of nine books. Compare that to 2002, when not even one cent was spent on the program, and you’ll see how the commitment to spreading Brazilian voices overseas has grown.

Money for Frankfurt Book Fair 2013 and through 2020

On July 8, the Foundation, together with the Ministry of Culture, announced a special program that would make R$2.7 million [US$1.73 million] available to publishing houses interested in translating, publishing and promoting Brazilian literature abroad in advance of the 2013 Frankfurt Book Fair, where Brazil will serve as Guest of Honor.

The grants range from US$2,000 to US$8,000, and once a new contract is signed, the publishing house has just 18 months to deliver 10 copies of the printed book to Brazil. Applications will be accepted until December 31, 2012, and all titles must be published by August 30th, 2013.

Perhaps even more notable was the news that the general program supporting translations is expected to be funded continuously through 2020.

This year alone the sum invested will double to R$1.1 million [US$ 641,000] — a figure that will be increased annually until it hits R$1.4 million [US$ 897,435] in 2020; in total R$12 million [US$7.7 million] is committed to support translations through the end of the decade.

“This is a program that considers the publishing of the Brazilian literature in the various idioms,” says Galeno Amorim, president at the National Library Foundation. “It is true that in the following months the efforts will be focused on Frankfurt and many of these grants will be for translations into German. But it is indeed a public policy to consider all languages. So that doesn’t mean that bigger markets or those countries with a greater demand for Brazilian books will be given priority.”

Rolling Applications, Out-of-print Translations Eligible

Additional changes to the program include a rolling application process, with new titles selected at the end of each quarter, and new eligibility to apply to republish out-of-print translations, providing they have been unavailable for at least three years.

The program is open for translations into any language in the areas of literature or the humanities, with an emphasis on novels, short stories, poetry, chronicles, children’s books, YA literature, theater pieces, reference works, literary criticism, historical essays, social sciences, poetry and short stories. Publishers whose applications are rejected may reapply.

The selected publishing houses will be required to print at least 1,000 copies of any new translated book. In the case of re-issues, a minimum edition of 500 is expected. A report on the progress of the translation and publication will need to be delivered to the Foundation every 90 days.

How to Apply and Application Policies

Applications are now open. Publishers need to send a letter of intent in Portuguese to apply. The letter should be accompanied by the various application forms filled and signed by a legal representative from the publishing company; a copy of the Assignment of Copyright Agreement, established by the publishing company with the author(s) or its legal representatives, or else notice that the work is within public domain; a copy of a contract of translation, established by the publisher and the translator in charge of the work; a recent catalogue of the publishing company (2010 and/or 2011) and the translator’s CV (in Portuguese). A business plan for the book to be published, circulation estimates, PR strategies and plans, including specific retail outlets where the book is going to be sold (including online retailers), particularly in the first 6 (six) months after publication are also required.

The applications will be judged by the Interdisciplinary Council of Research and Editing of Brazil’s National Library Foundation, that may require the support of external consultants, by the end of every quarter (September 30th and December 31st 2011; March 31st, June 30th, September 30th December 31st, 2012), and will present the selected projects and the amount that will be given to each one within 30 days.

In the case of an unpublished book, the amount that can be offered will range between US $2,000 and US$8,000, depending on various criteria such as the complexity of the text, number of pages, the publisher’s catalogue, the translator’s CV, the importance of this translation in the effort to promote the Brazilian literature, whether the publication includes digital and printed versions, and the scope of the distribution and marketing plans. If the project is for an out-of-print translation, the sum available can be between US$1,000 and US$4,000.

As soon as the contract is signed, the publisher receives 50% of the grant. The rest is paid when the 10 required published copies are received by the National Library Foundation. If the publisher fails to meet the terms of their contract, they will be required to return the initial 50% advance.

For more information on the Program for Supporting The Translation and Publishing of Brazilian Authors Abroad, please contact the National Library Foundation at +55 21 2220-2057 or send an e-mail to You can find application materials online: click here.

DISCUSS: Is the Power Balance in Translation Shifting Away from English?

About the Author

Maria Fernanda Rodrigues