A new scheme from English PEN Helps Fund Sample Translations

Literature in translation has received a major boost in a new scheme launched by English PEN.  The initiative, entitled PEN Presents, will initially focus on literature from India and sees 12 translators of Indian literature awarded grants to create 5,000-word samples.  It is part of PEN Present’s aim of funding the often-unpaid work of sample translation. The translators are:

  • Anurag Basnet, for a translation from Nepali of Lekhnath Chhetri’s Fruits of the Barren Tree.
  • Deepa Bhasthi, for a translation from Kannada of Banu Mushtaq’s Haseena and Other Stories.
  • Sayantan Dasgupta, for a translation from Bengali of Bimalendu Haldar’s Salt Country.
  • Fathima E.V, for a translation from Malayalam of P F Mathews’ The Subaltern Spectre.
  • Gopika Jadeja, for a translation from Gujarati of Umesh Solanki’s Transformations.
  • Kartikeya Jain, for a translation from Hindi of Chandan Pandey’s Songs of Glory.
  • Maithreyi Karnoor, for a translation from Kannada of Nemichandra’s Yad Vashem.
  • Nandini Krishnan, for a translation from Tamil of Charu Nivedita’s I Am Aurangzeb: Conversations with an Emperor.
  • Sipra Mukherjee, for a translation from Bengali of Sasim Kumar Badoi’s The Sundarban Honey-gatherer’s Daughter.
  • Shabnam Nadiya, for a translation from Bengali of Wasi Ahmed’s The Ice Machine.
  • Nikhil Pandhi, for a translation from Hindi of Anita Bharti’s Chronicle of the Quota Woman and Other Stories.
  • Ramaswamy, for a translation from Bengali of Adhir Biswas’ Last Boy: An Untouchable Boy’s Classroom.

The shortlist represents seven of the languages of India, and includes novels, short stories and memoir. Six samples will be chosen from the shortlist by the PEN Presents Selection Panel – seven experts from across the UK and Indian literary sectors – to be showcased in an issue on the PEN Presents platform, an online catalogue of the most outstanding, original, and bibliodiverse literature not yet published in English translation. They will be given editorial support from English PEN and promoted to UK publishers

Will Forrester, Translation and International Manager at English PEN, said: “Selected from an extraordinarily large and strong set of proposals, this shortlist represents a remarkable breadth of outstanding Indian literature not yet published in English translation. We are delighted that these 12 translators, authors and works cover such a range of languages, geographies and themes, and I am particularly thrilled by the number and quality of works by Dalit writers represented. This shortlist is a testament to the vitality of Indian literature in Indian languages, the urgent possibility of fostering their translation into English, and the talented community of literary translators who are poised to do so.”

PEN Presents was launched following a 2021 research collaboration between English PEN and the Translating Women project, which consulted with translators, agents, publishers and literature organisations, and found a widespread desire for an initiative supporting and showcasing sample translations. The programme aims to fund literary translators’ work of creating samples, give publishers better access to titles from underrepresented languages and regions, and help diversify the translated literature landscape.