NEA Announces Literary Translation Fellowships

Black and white photo of a man wearing glasses and a suit standing on a balcony
With the support of an FY 2016 NEA Literature Translation Fellowship, Maia Evrona will translate Abraham Sutzkever's Poems from My Diary from Yiddish to English. Photo courtesy of Jewish Public Library Archives of Montreal
Washington, DC—“What translation can do for us, and what we so desperately need at this juncture in human history, is to radically increase our empathic capacities; to learn, or perhaps relearn, how to listen—to people of all linguistic traditions and hopefully, some day, to beings who don’t ‘speak’ at all,” writes translator Johanna Warren in the National Endowment for the Art’s 2014 collection of essays, The Art of Empathy: Celebrating Literature in Translation. Today, the NEA announced $275,000 in recommended grants to 20 translators to support the new translation of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry from 11 different languages into English, the latest in the NEA’s efforts to bring the work of writers around the globe to a larger audience. “The NEA is committed to providing Americans with diverse art experiences,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Our support of literary translation provides opportunities for readers to expand their knowledge of other cultures and traditions while also experiencing some of the world’s most talented writers.” Since 1981, the NEA has awarded 410 fellowships to 363 translators, with translations representing 66 languages and 77 countries. This year’s projects are for translation from 11 different languages: Albanian, Chinese, French, German, Danish, Italian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, and Yiddish. The review criteria for these projects consisted not only of the translators’ skill, but also the importance of a particular work of international literature to English-speaking audiences, including those authors and languages which are often underrepresented. Projects recommended for support include:
  • A grant of $12,500 to Jeremy Tiang to support the translation from the Chinese of Lo Yi-Chin's novel Far Away. Taiwanese writer Lo Yi-Chin is a key figure among Chinese speakers and his novel offers a unique perspective on the border politics in that part of the world. This is the first full-length translation of Lo Yi-Chin's work into English.
  • A grant of $12,500 to Maia Evrona to support the translation from the Yiddish of Poems from My Diary by Abraham Sutzkever, whom the New York Times has called “one of the great Yiddish poets of his generation.” Considered his masterpiece, Poems from My Diary was awarded the Israel Prize in 1985 – the only time the prize was awarded for a work of literature written in Yiddish rather than Hebrew.
  • A grant of $25,000 to Matvei Yankelevich to support the translation from the Russian of selected, multi-genre works by Elena Guro. In her short lifetime, Guro (1877-1913) became one of the most influential Russian avant-garde female writers and artists who wrote during what is now called the Russian Silver Age, yet she is practically unknown to English-language readers. This project will collect her prose, diaries, critical notes, and correspondence into a single text.
Click here for the list of fiscal year 2016 recommended NEA Literature Translation Fellowship recipients. In addition to support for translators, the NEA also provides support for organizations which publish literature in translation. Examples of projects supported by the NEA in FY 2015 include:
  • Center for the Art of Translation in San Francisco, California, to support the publication and promotion of print and electronic versions of Two Lines, their annual anthology of world literature and books in translation.
  • The University of Rochester’s Open Letter Books to support the publication and promotion of books in translation from Catalonia, Chile, Denmark, France, Italy, and Tunisia.
  • Words without Borders to support their online magazine of international literature, along with other web-based resources and updates. 
The full list of FY 2015 literature grants can be found using the NEA’s online grant search. About the NEA Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America.

FY 2016 Literature Translation Fellowships NEA Literature Content
  • The Art of Empathy: Celebrating Literature in Translation brings together essays by 19 translators and individuals who help to make translated works available. This publication illuminates the challenges of literary translation as well as its importance in bringing new voices to American audiences.
  • Writers' Corner offers a wealth of information about the work of NEA Literature Fellowship recipients. Awardees of Translation Fellowships provide more detail about their projects, a sample of the translation and the original text, and insight into how they used their NEA support to advance their project. Recipients of Translation Fellowships from 2011-2014 are currently featured.
  • Podcasts with authors and translators including Natasha Wimmer.
  • Art Works Blog interviews with translators such as Esther Allen, George O'Connell, Johanna Warren, and David Hinton.
Please note: the text of NEA's blog posts and podcasts are available to use for non-commercial purposes with credit to the NEA.


Liz Auclair,, 202-682-5744