NCW Emerging Translator Mentorships 2022

The National Centre for Writing is seeking applications from translators into English for the 2021/22 NCW Emerging Translator Mentorship programme.

The following languages are taking applications until 11:59pm BST on Wednesday 8 September:

  • Latvian (mentored by Kaija Straumanis)
  • Norwegian (mentored by Kari Dickson)
  • 2 x Visible Communities Mentorships: one mentorship for a UK-based Black or Brown literary translator and one for a UK-based literary translator from the diaspora, heritage or community languages of the UK(mentored by either Meena Kandasamy or Sawad Hussain)

The following languages are now closed for applications:

  • Italian (mentored by Howard Curtis)
  • Japanese (mentored by Juliet Winters Carpenter)
  • Korean (mentored by Anton Hur)
  • Polish (mentored by Antonia Lloyd-Jones)
  • Russian (mentored by Oliver Ready)
  • Swiss German (mentored by Jamie Lee Searle)
  • British Centre for Literary Translation and British Council Mentorship: one mentorship for a literary translator currently resident in a country on the OECD list of countries qualifying for Official Development Assistance, or (in the case of refugees or asylum-seekers from ODA-eligible countries) who has been resident in their destination country for 12 months or fewer (mentored by Canan Marasligil). Two runners-up will receive two digital mentoring sessions each (mentored by Ros Schwartz).

About the programme

Celebrating its eleventh anniversary in 2021, the Emerging Translator Mentorship programme was founded by Daniel Hahn in 2010 with the aim of developing successive new cohorts of literary translators into English, particularly for languages whose literature is currently under-represented in English translation.

The scheme matches up experienced translators with emerging translators for a six-month period during which they work together on practical translation projects, developing their craft through working on a chosen text or texts. The mentor acts as an adviser to the mentee on aspects of life as a professional translator, such as time management, meeting deadlines, managing finances, and understanding contracts, and as an advocate for their mentee with publishers in search of literary translators.

The evidence to date suggests that participation in the scheme represents, in itself, a significant professional development for mentees, with publishers seeing the mentoring cohort as a reliable source of high-quality emerging translators.

What you will receive

Mentees receive a £500 bursary and reasonable travel expenses associated with the mentorship, which vary according to the relative geographical locations of the mentoring pair. The mentorship will include a residential weekend*, access to UK industry events such as International Translation Day and London Book Fair, and a concluding digital showcase to amplify the translators’ work to wider audiences. Samples of mentees’ work will also be published in a print and digital anthology.

National Centre for Writing will facilitate an initial planning meeting between successful applicants and their mentors to agree on the scope of their project and how they will work together. The mentoring period lasts for six months, from October 2021 to March 2022, during which the mentoring pair will meet at least four times, either in person, by virtual media or by phone as appropriate and agreed between them. In between meetings, they will exchange work and comments via email.

*Please note, the format of this event may change due to the Covid-19 situation and might be conducted online or in a hybrid event.

Who can apply?

The programme is open to emerging translators at no cost to them. An emerging translator is someone who has published no more than one full-length work of translation. MFA and MA students in translation can apply, but priority may be given to those who do not have access to the kind of guidance already present in a translation degree programme. Though English is the target language, the emerging translator need not live in the UK (with the exception of the two Visible Communities mentorships; special residency and/or background requirements also apply to the British Centre for Literary Translation and British Council mentorship). We particularly welcome applications for all mentorships from those groups which are currently under-represented in the literary translation community.

How to apply

Applications are still open for Latvian, Norwegian and 2 x Visible Communities Mentorships.

Your application should include:

  • A covering letter stating why you believe you would benefit from a mentorship, and what you can bring to the mentor and mentorship
  • Your CV: with a focus on your translation work and experience
  • A one-page sample book proposal: this should demonstrate your understanding of the text, author and source culture, but also of the English language market for the translation and its target readership
  • A sample translation of up to 2,000 words of prose or up to 100 lines poetry or dramatic text along with the corresponding source text: this can be from your sample book project, or a different text or texts

Applications should be emailed to with the subject ‘ETM 21/22’ and the language or mentorship strand for which you are applying. Queries can be sent to the same email address, addressed ‘FAO Rebecca DeWald’.

The deadline for receipt of entries is 11.59pm BST, Wednesday 8 September 2021.

Applications will be assessed by the relevant mentor; both Visible Communities mentorships will be assessed by both mentors. Their assessment will be based on the following criteria:

  • strength of the sample proposal: how well the applicant demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of the text, author, language and possible issues; how original and relevant the text and author are for a translation project into English; the applicant’s awareness of the source language market, the target language market and the English-language readership
  • strength of the translation: the applicant’s technical competence in handling the grammatical, syntactical and stylistic features of the source text; how well written, creative and enjoyable to read the translation is; and
  • the mentor’s own suitability to best support an applicant.

Successful applicants will be informed by Friday 17 September and will be announced publicly at International Translation Day on Thursday 30 September with a short, pre-recorded video.


Supported by Arts Council England, The Literary Translation Institute of Korea, The Polish Cultural Institute, The Royal Norwegian Embassy, The Russian Institute for Literary Translation, The Italian Cultural Institute, Pro-Helvetia, the Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities at UCLA and Waseda University, Latvian Literature, the British Centre for Literary Translation and the British Council.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does ‘Emerging’ mean?

Emerging refers to a translator who has published no more than one full-length work of literary translation. Applicants with commercial translation experience are encouraged.

What should I include in my CV/Covering Letter?

Your CV should detail any previous translation experience as well as any other relevant experience. Your covering letter should explain how you think you’ll benefit from the programme and what you would bring to the mentorship.

What should I include in my sample proposal?

Your proposal should include a short synopsis of a text, a short biography of the original author, and answer the following questions: why would this text benefit from translation and what is the appeal of the text in the English Language market? We would advise against choosing a text which has already been translated into the English Language for the purposes of this sample proposal. The proposal need not be a full book pitch, but you may find translator Ros Schwartz’s guidance on translation pitches here helpful.

Should my sample translation be from the text I would like to work on during my mentorship?

Your sample translation does not have to be from the same text you are proposing to translate but it may help your mentor to assess your proposal, particularly if they are unfamiliar with the text you are proposing to work with. The piece you eventually work on will be decided between you and your mentor, and may be different to the sample project you propose.

Do I have to be based in the UK to apply?

No – with the exception of the Visible Communities mentorships, you do not have to be a UK resident to apply.

Why do you give priority to applicants who are not in full-time education?

The mentorship seeks to support those translators who do not currently have a supportive network of experienced translators and mentors around them.

Will I have to meet my mentor face to face for our sessions?

No – you may not live in the same country or continent as your mentor and sessions can occur exclusively via electronic media. As mentors and mentees are invited to the residential weekend, this does offer an opportunity for a face-to-face meeting if both are able to attend (Covid-19 guidelines and travel restrictions permitting).

What happens if my mentor doesn’t translate from the same language as me?

The mentorship is designed to help with the challenges of translation as a whole – identifying universal translation issues beyond individual languages. The scheme is designed to help you better understand literary translation and the industry at large. With regards to non-language specific mentorships, we aim to provide a couple of sessions of language-specific support in addition to the general mentorship (details to be confirmed with the successful applicant/s).

Will Covid-19 affect my mentorship?

As mentorships can be conducted remotely, the effects of Covid-19 on the mentoring process itself are minimal. We will, however, have to keep our plans for the residential weekend at the National Centre for Writing in Norwich in January 2022 under review and/or may choose to organise a digital or hybrid event instead.

If I am selected for the Visible Communities mentorship, will I get to choose who my mentor is?

No – both mentors involved in the selection process for this programme will make their decision based on which applicant they can best support. The mentee does not get to choose their mentor.

Who is eligible to apply for the British Centre for Literature Translation and British Council mentorship?

In order to be eligible for this mentorship, emerging translators need to currently reside in a country on the OECD list of countries qualifying for Official Development Assistance. Alternatively, if you are a refugee or asylum-seeker originally from an ODA-eligible country, you must have been resident in your destination country for 12 months or fewer. Your destination country need not be the UK.

Can I apply to become a mentor on the programme?

We are currently inviting mentors directly to participate in the programme once we have been able to confirm funding for the relevant language or strand. We recognize that this process is not the most transparent way to select mentors and are working towards implementing an application process. More experienced translators interested in becoming mentors will be able to apply to be considered as mentors and, if eligible, will be added to a pool of mentors and contacted if their relevant language pair will be on offer in an upcoming mentoring year. We will advertise a call for applications for the mentoring pool via our usual channels.

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