Emerging Translator Mentorships

The 2020-21 mentees have now been selected. Sign up to the NCW translation newsletter to hear about all future developments with the scheme.

Founded by Daniel Hahn in 2010, our translation mentoring programme aims to develop 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 mentor will be a professional literary translator but may not translate from the language supported in the mentorship.

“As soon as publishers hear that I am an NCW programme mentee they take me and my work seriously. 

The NCW programme is a kind of quality label… Definitely improved professional networks, met publishers, other translators, found out about other opportunities to grow my career.”

– Erika, 2017/8 (Lithuanian with Shaun Whiteside)

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.

Mentees receive a £500 bursary, split into two payments over the course of the mentorship, and reasonable travel expenses associated with the mentorship, agreed in advance with The National Centre for Writing. The mentorship will include an Industry Day, specially tailored to the needs of emerging translators, as well as access to London Book Fair.

The National Centre for Writing will facilitate an initial meeting between successful applicants and their mentors to agree the nature of working together (project scope and regularity of meetings) with work continuing for a six-month period, either in person, by Skype or by telephone as appropriate. A minimum of four meetings is expected during the period.

Supported by Arts Council England, The Danish Arts Foundation, The Harvill Secker Young Translators Prize, The Literary Translation Institute of Korea, The Polish Cultural Institute, The Royal Norwegian Embassy, NORLA, The Russian Institute for Literary Translation, The Italian Cultural Institute, Pro-Helvetia and the Tadashi Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities at UCLA and Waseda University.

“For me, the Emerging Translators Mentorship did just what the name suggests: it helped me ’emerge’. No translator, be they the reincarnation of St Jerome himself, will get published ex nihilo – there’s editors who need convincing.

Luckily, I got to be mentored by someone who singlehandedly managed to jump that hurdle herself (with The Vegetarian). The absolute trailblazer she continues to be, Deborah’s advice was nothing short of crucial as I began navigating the wondrous world of publishing.”

Mattho, 2018/19 (Korean with Deborah Smith)

On the continuing development of the scheme

Over the course of the coming few months NCW is working to revise the ETM Scheme to recognise the achievements of the last ten years and to explore ways of developing the scheme in the coming ten years.

We’re committed to revising the programme in the following ways and will update the website and keep in touch with the translation world, our partners and funders as we make the changes:

Mentors: We wish to ensure we have a rich mix of mentoring talent on our programme and will be working with partners to broaden to pool of talent we’re lucky to draw from by making a call out for future potential mentors early in the new year. We are also planning to offer training opportunities for literary translators interested in becoming mentors with us and more generally.

Languages: We are working with partners, funders and our team at NCW to explore how we can offer a broader range of languages over the coming few years. We are reviewing our focus for the programme for the coming three to five years between now and March 2021 and will publish an updated Translation Strategy for the organisation in 2021.

Mentees: We are working with a range of partners to ensure the translators coming through the programme represent an increased diversity of voices, backgrounds and experiences.

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