The PEN America Translation Committee advocates on behalf of literary translators, working to foster a wider understanding of their art and offering professional resources for translators, publishers, critics, bloggers, and others with an interest in international literature. The committee is currently cochaired by Allison Markin Powell and Mary Ann Newman. Contact us at pen.translation at gmail.com. 

“If I were asked to sum up in one word my reason for feeling that a Translation Committee was essential to the American Center of P.E.N.—quite apart from the obvious fact that P.E.N. is an international organization and therefore exists through translated relationships—I think that the word I would use is ‘climate.’ For translation to flourish in this or any other country as it should (as it must), an ideal climate would supply certain basic necessities: recognition of the fact that the translator is indispensable; appreciation of the difficulty of his role (that it is an art as well as a craft); proper financial return for his labors, and credit given where credit is due.” — B. J. Chute, former PEN American Center president, “The Necessity of Translation,” May 1970


Translation Resources

Directory of Working Translators
A listing of PEN members working as translators in more than 25 different languages.

Model Contract for Literary Translations
A template of a standard publishing contract for a literary work in translation, covering copyright and reversion of rights, royalties, publicity, and other basics. 

Translation FAQs
Answers to frequently asked questions about literary translation contracts and publishing.

Negotiating Contracts: A Translator’s Checklist 
You want to translate a book. A press is ready to publish it. They send you a contract. What should you be looking for? Fee, copyright, name on the cover, royalties, final say on the text? Due date? Publication date? With so many details to keep track of, it’s easy to overlook something. Translators from the PEN America Translation Committee, the Translators Association (UK), and the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada present a checklist to help you use their model contracts to get the best terms you can get.

PEN/Heim Translation Fund
Grants to support the translation of book-length works of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, or drama. Read translator essays and excerpts from the 2016 PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant winners.

PEN Translation Prize
Awarded each year to honor a book-length translation from any language into English.

PEN Award for Poetry in Translation
Presented each year to recognize a book-length translation of poetry from any language into English.

PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation
Awarded every third year to a translator whose career has demonstrated a commitment to excellence through the body of his or her work.

A selection of literary journals seeking works in translation.

A list of presses, large and small, that publish works in translation.

How to Review Translations
A series of posts by critics and translators, at Words Without Borders.

Recommended Readings on Translation
An annotated list by PEN member Sandra Smith, translator of Irène Némirovsky and Albert Camus.

The best source for literary translation events in the NYC area is Susan Bernofsky’s blog, Translationista.

Women in Translation: a Tumblr by Translation Committee members Margaret Carson and Alta L. Price

The Business of Literary Translation: video of a four-part series copresented by the PEN America Translation Committee and the Bridge Series, hosted by the Center for Fiction. Part 1: Breaking In | Part 2: Editing | Part 3: Contracts | Part 4: Bookselling

Translators, Rates, Money, and Unions”: Translation Committee cochair Alex Zucker, on the Three Percent podcast, talks about the business of literary translation.

The Quebec Declaration on Literary Translation and Translators: Adopted on October 15, 2015, at the 81st PEN International Congress, in Quebec.

News and Updates

A revised version of the Translation Committee’s Model Contract for Literary Translations is now available here

Longlists for the PEN Translation Prize and PEN Award for Poetry in Translation were announced December 8. Meet the eight talented translators who are giving their valuable time to read the books here. Shortlists will be announced January 18, 2017; winners, February 22. The 2017 Literary Awards Ceremony will be held in New York City on March 27

Recipients of the 2016 PEN/Heim Translation Fund grants—fourteen grantees, translating from nine different languages—were honored October 21, at the CUNY Graduate Center New York, as part of an event celebrating the legendary translator Gregory Rabassa, who passed away this year. Video of the event is available for viewing here (Part 1) and here (Part 2). 

Featured Translations

The first novel from Madagascar ever to be translated into English, Beyond the...
The first night at our house dressed in red like that, with her long black...
Sophie Seita is the recipient of a 2015 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant for...
With her translation, Perry introduces the English-speaking world to the...
Simon Wickhamsmith is the recipient of a 2015 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant...
Rajiv Mohabir is the recipient of a 2015 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant for...
The first comprehensive English translation of one of post-war Italy’s most...
Lee Klein is the recipient of a 2015 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant for his...
GO is a coming-of-age novel that depicts the life of an ethnic Korean student...
Jennifer Croft is the recipient of a 2015 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant for...
Meg Matich, a recipient of a 2015 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant, translates...
Published in 1937, The Absolute Gravedigger is the culmination of Vítězslav...
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