UK: National Centre For Writing Names Literary Translator-Mentees

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The Norwich-based National Centre for Writing has announced the nine winners of its translator mentoring program.

The Cloister at Norwich Cathedral. The United Kingdom’s National Centre for Writing is based in Norwich, some 117 miles northeast of London. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Wirestock

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Malay-to-English Is a Newly Added Language Pair
As Publishing Perspectives readers will recall, England’s National Centre for Writing in August announced that its mentoring program for literary translators would add a category for deaf, disabled, or neurodiverse applicants.

This program works with translators bringing content into English from other languages. The interest here is especially in languages the literature of which “is currently under-represented in English translation.”

This is the program established by translator and author Daniel Hahn in 2010 to put together experienced and newly active translators, each pair working over a six-month period on practical translation projects.

Those chosen to be mentored receive an £800 (US$971) stipend and access to “dedicated weekends of training and talks, various events such as International Translation day observations and London Book Fair, a digital showcase of their work, and inclusion in an anthology publication.

2023-2024 Emerging Literary Translator Mentorships Program
  • Victoria Issa Yacoub — Arabic to English, mentored by Sawad Hussain
  • Nat Paterson — French to English (deaf, disabled and/or neurodivergent mentorship), mentored by Khairani Barokka
  • Sean McDonagh — Italian to English, mentored by Elena Pala
  • Charlotte Goff — Japanese to English, mentored by Polly Barton
  • Joheun Lee — Korean to English, mentored by Clare Richards
  • Nasim Luczaj — Polish to English, mentored by Sean Gasper Bye
  • Khadija Aidoo — Québec French to English, mentored by Sarah Ardizzone
  • Rilla Melati Bahri — Malay to English, mentored by Jeremy Tiang
  • Tayiba Sulaiman — Swiss German to English, mentored by Jamie Lee Searle

Rebecca DeWald

In a prepared statement on the release of the mentorship assignments, the program manager, Rebecca DeWald, says, “Beginning in October, our mentoring translators—including ‘seasoned’ translators as well as former mentees now ready to take the next step and support another emerging talent—will be working with nine promising emerging literary translators based [in places] from Scotland to Shanghai.

“We also have a couple of firsts this year: we’re pleased to be able to offer a mentorship for a UK-based mentee who identifies as deaf, disabled and/or neurodivergent, and through our “languages of Singapore” mentorship, we can support a translator working from Malay for the first time.”

Alumni of the program include winners of the many, many awards in books and publishing.

Among them are Nichola Smalley, whose translation of Andrzej Tichý’s Wretchedness won the 2021 Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize and was longlisted for the International Booker Prize, as was Reuben Woolley’s translation of Andrey Kurkov’s Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv.

Sophie Hughes’ translations of Alia Trabucco Zerán’s The Remainder and Fernanda Melchor’s Hurricane Season were shortlisted for the 2019 and the 2020 editions of the International Booker Prize, respectively.

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award is one of the supporters of the translation mentorships program, providing the Arabic mentorship.

More sponsors include Arts Council England; the Italian Cultural Institute; the Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities at UCLA and Waseda University; the Literary Translation Institute of Korea; the Polish Cultural Institute; the Québec Government Office in London; the National Arts Council of Singapore; ProHelvetia; and the Society of Authors.


More from Publishing Perspectives on translation is here, more on the National Centre for Writing is here, and more from the United Kingdom’s market is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the world media partner of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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