NCW Emerging Translator Mentorships 2023

Applications are now open for the NCW Emerging Translator Mentorships 2022/23

The National Centre for Writing is seeking applications from translators into English for the 2022/23 NCW Emerging Translator Mentorship programme.

This year’s languages are:

  • Arabic (mentored by Sawad Hussain)
  • Danish (mentored by Paul Russell Garrett)
  • Hindi – The Saroj Lal mentorship (mentored by Daisy Rockwell)
  • IndonesianHarvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize (mentored by Khairani Barokka)
  • Italian (mentored by Howard Curtis)
  • Japanese (mentored by Juliet Winters Carpenter)
  • Korean (mentored by Anton Hur)
  • Norwegian (mentored by Rosie Hedger)
  • Polish (mentored by Sean Gasper Bye)
  • Québec French or First Nations languages (mentored by Sarah Ardizzone); this mentorship is open to literary translators working from either one or more of the following languages: Québec French, Algonquin, Atikamekw, Cree, Innu, Inuktitut, Micmac, Mohawk and Naskapi
  • Swedish (mentored by Nichola Smalley)
  • Ukrainian (mentored by Nina Murray)
  • Visible Communities Mentorship (mentored by Meena Kandasamy); this mentorship is open to UK-based literary translators who are either Black, Asian and Ethnically Diverse or are working from heritage, diaspora and community languages of the UK

About the programme

Celebrating its thirteenth anniversary in 2022, 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 an online Industry Week with tailored training events and talks, access to UK industry events such as International Translation Day and attendance of the London Book Fair with a day-trip to NCW’s headquarters at Dragon Hall in Norwich, 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 2022 to March 2023, with an additional in-person meeting in Norwich and London from 17-20 April 2023. During this time, 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.

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 literary 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 Visible Communities 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 should be uploaded via the Google Form here. Please note, you will need a Google account (which can be created easily and linked to a non-google email address) to upload your application documents.

If uploading your application is inconvenient or inaccessible for you, or you require assistance to make the application process more accessible for you, please email with the subject ‘ETM 22/23’ and the language or mentorship strand for which you are applying. Any other queries can be sent to the email address above.

Please note that applications for the Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize 2022 in Indonesian should be directed straight to Harvill Secker here. Please also note that applicants for the prize are asked to translate a specific source text sample.

The deadline for receipt of entries is 11.59pm BST on Wednesday, 31 August 2022.

Your application must include the following:

  • 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: this can be from your sample book project, or a different text or texts
  • The source text that corresponds to your sample translation
  • Please also complete the brief survey on equality, diversity and inclusion, which is included in the Google Forms link above. For each question, there is an option to select ‘Prefer not to say’ and all answers will be treated anonymously.

Applications will be assessed by the relevant mentor; applications to the Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize will be assessed by a jury (see more information on the Harvill Secker website). 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, and target language market and audience in English
  • 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 the translation is; and
  • the mentor’s own suitability to best support an applicant.

Successful applicants will be informed by Friday 16 September 2022 and will be announced publicly at International Translation Day on Friday 30 September with a short, pre-recorded video.

Supported by Arts Council England, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, the Danish Arts Foundation, The Saroj Lal Mentorship, Harvill Secker, the Italian Cultural Institute, Tadashi Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities at UCLA and Waseda University, the Literary Translation Institute of Korea, The Royal Norwegian Embassy, the Polish Cultural Institute, the Québec Government Office in London, the Swedish Arts Council, the British Centre for Literary Translation, the British Council and the Visible Communities programme.

Arts Council England logo     Danish Arts Foundation logo       Harvill Secker Young Translators' Prize    The Italian Cultural Institute        Literature Translation Institute of Korea    Royal Norwegian Embassy    Polish Cultural Institute London              British Council logo

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 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.

What do you mean by ‘heritage, diaspora or community languages of the UK’?

Heritage languages are defined as minority languages learned by their speakers at home as children, within a majority language context; speakers often grow up with a different dominant language.

Diaspora languages refer to a variety of languages spoken by peoples with common roots who have dispersed, under various pressures and often globally.

Community languages are languages spoken by members of a minority group or community within a majority language context. Some of these are languages which have been used for hundreds of years in Britain, others are of more recent origin.

If you are uncertain as to whether the language you are working from into English qualifies as per these definitions, please do get in touch!

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 a day at Dragon Hall and the London Book Fair in April, 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).

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 hope that the London Book Fair will go ahead in April 2023, as it did in 2022, and are confident we can welcome all mentors and mentees to Norwich as well for the occasion.

Why is the Hindi mentorship called the ‘Saroj Lal mentorship’?

Saroj Lal (1937-2020) was a pioneering educator, activist and campaigner in Scottish race relations who challenged perceptions and stereotypes throughout her career, fighting for equality, diversity and fairness for all. A first-generation immigrant to the UK, she had grown up in India with Hindi as her mother tongue, but English would become her ‘professional’ language for most of her working life. She was quick to recognise the linguistic needs of minority communities, and set up Edinburgh’s first-ever public interpreting and translating service in the 1980s. She was also the driving force behind the growth of mother-tongue teaching in the city, and spearheaded the development of heritage-language teaching in local authority schools.

Saroj’s son, Vineet Lal, happens to be a literary translator and was one of the first recipients of an Emerging Translator Mentorship when the programme launched in 2010. He is currently an NCW Visible Communities Translator in Residence, and has been working in partnership with NCW to create this dedicated mentorship in Saroj’s name – which felt particularly appropriate this year, given the International Booker Prize – as part of a wider campaign to commemorate Saroj’s trailblazing achievements in her adopted homeland.

What is the Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize?

The Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize is a biannual prize that aims to encourage and support the next generation of literary translators, and focuses on a different language each year running. Now in its twelfth year, the 2022 focus language is Indonesian and entrants will translate an excerpt from the novel Dua Muka Daun Pintu by Triskaidekaman. Entry is open to anyone between the ages of 18 and 34 with no more than one full-length literary translation previously published. There is no restriction on country of residence. The winning translator will receive £1,000 and a selection of Harvill Secker books, as well as an Emerging Translator Mentorship with Khairani Barokka and the National Centre for Writing.

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.

What does “no more than one full-length work of literary translation” mean?

Applicants can have published 0 or 1 full-length works of literary translation. It is not essential for applicants to have published any literary translations up until this point, but they must not have published 2 or more works of literary translation to be eligible.

“Published” means that the translations have already appeared, or are contracted to appear.

“Full-length” works include fiction and creative non-fiction titles, such as novels, novellas, short story collections, memoirs, travel accounts, essays, etc. (not​ included in this definition are academic or other non-fiction translations, such as guidebooks, manuals, dictionaries, artist catalogues, or similar), as well as poetry collections (not pamphlets or chapbooks), anthologies (not single anthology entries) and full-length plays (not excerpts, for example in anthologies).

Will my application be considered if I am currently participating in another mentorships programme, or if I have applied for another translation mentorships programme simultaneously?

While applicants are encouraged to apply simultaneously to multiple mentorship programmes, such as those offered by ALTA (the American Literary Translators Assocation), LTAC/QWF, or others, please note that successful applicants will only be allowed to pursue one mentorship at a given time. In other words, applicants selected for more than one mentorship will need to choose one to accept. This allows our programmes to support the greatest number of emerging translators.

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.

Do I need to have secured the rights to the book I am proposing in my sample translation and/or do these rights need to be available?

No, you do not need to have sourced the rights to the book you are proposing in your sample. Your sample proposal is designed to assess your knowledge of the English Language market and where your chosen book might sit within this. The book you propose to translate may not be the project you end up working on during the mentorship – this is decided in the initial meeting – and the rights to your chosen text can be acquired during the mentorship process.


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