Applications for the 2023/24 programme have now closed. Please subscribe to the NCW newsletter and follow us on social media for news on future opportunities.
The National Centre for Writing is seeking applications from translators into English for the 2023/24 Emerging Translator Mentorship programme.
This year’s languages are:
- Arabic (mentored by Sawad Hussain)
- Italian (mentored by Elena Pala)
- Japanese (mentored by Polly Barton)
- Korean (mentored by Clare Richards)
- 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 preference is given to applicants resident in the UK, Ireland or the Nordic Countries.
- Languages of Singapore (mentored by Jeremy Tiang); this mentorship is open to literary translators working from either or various of the languages of Singapore (Malay, Singaporean Mandarin, Tamil, Kristang or other minority languages) into English. This mentorship is open to literary translators who are Singaporean Citizens or Singapore Permanent Residents, regardless of their actual place of residence.
- Swiss German (mentored by Jamie Lee Searle)
- Mentorship for a D/deaf, Disabled and/or Neurodivergent Translator (mentored by Khairani Barokka); this mentorship is open to UK-based literary translators who identify as either D/deaf, disabled and/or neurodivergent working from any language into English.
What selected mentees will receive
Mentees receive six months of personal mentoring with a mentor in their language or field. They will also be awarded a £800 stipend to cover expenses associated with the mentorship, such as travel. The mentorship will include various online industry events with tailored training events and talks, a feature at International Translation Day and attendance of London Book Fair with a networking day at NCW’s headquarters at Dragon Hall in Norwich. The mentees’ work will also be celebrated in a concluding digital showcase, when a print and digital anthology with samples of the mentees’ translations will also be published, to further amplify the translators’ work.
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 2023 to March 2024, including an in-person meeting in Norwich and London from 11-14 March 2024. 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.
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.
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 D/deaf, disabled, neurodivergent mentorship).
We particularly welcome applications for all mentorships from those groups which are currently under-represented in the literary translation community.
I started my translation career as a mentee in this very program, so it’s such a delight now to be on the other side… The NCW mentorship program is building the kind of collaboration and community that literary translation is all about.
How to apply
Applications to the Emerging Translator Mentorships programme are now closed.
Applications should be uploaded via a Google Form. 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.
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 is ideally taken from your sample book project, but can also be 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
Applications will be assessed by the relevant mentor. 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.
The deadline for applications was 11.59pm BST on Monday 28 August 2023.
Successful applicants will be informed by Friday 15 September 2023 and will be announced publicly at International Translation Day on Saturday 30 September 2023 with a short, pre-recorded video.
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 [email protected] with the subject “ETM 23/24” and the language or mentorship strand for which you are applying.
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 to apply.
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 mentorship for a D/deaf, disabled and/or neurodivergent translator, you do not have to be a UK resident to apply. For the mentorship in Québec French and/or First Nations languages of Canada, preference will be given to applicants based in the UK, Ireland or the Nordic Countries.
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, this does offer an opportunity for a face-to- face meeting if both are able to attend.
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 will 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).
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).
Who can apply to the mentorship for a D/deaf, disabled and/or neurodivergent translator?
Any emerging translator who self-identifies as D/deaf, disabled and/or neurodivergent and is based in the UK is eligible to apply. We won’t be requiring medical certificates or any other kind of “proof” of your status, but will trust your declaration. To ensure we can offer you the right support for your accessibility needs from the very start, it would be helpful if you could fill in the relevant section on access requirements when submitting your application via Google Forms.
I’m interested in the Swiss German/Québec French and First Nations/Languages of Singapore mentorship but I have a question about the suitability of my chosen text and/or author.
When applying for any of the mentorships, applicants are asked to write a book proposal suggesting a book you would like to work on during your mentorship that you think would do well in the English language book market.
When applying for the Swiss German strand, please either suggest a book by an author who is Swiss and either writes in (standard) German or Swiss German, or you can apply with a project by an author of any nationality writing in Swiss German.
When applying for the Québec French or First Nations strand, please suggest a book by an author who is either from the Canadian province of Quebec and writes in (standard) French, Quebecois or any of the First Nations languages of Québec (Algonquin, Atikamekw, Cree, Innu, Inuktitut, Micmac, Mohawk), or who has ties to Québec and writes in any of the above First Nations languages.
When applying for the Languages of Singapore strand, please either suggest a book by an author who is Singaporean and writes in either Malay, Singaporean Mandarin, Tamil, Kristang or any other minority languages of Singapore. Please note that applicants to this strand must either be Singapore citizens or Singapore Permanent Residents, regardless of their actual place of residence.
In any of the cases, it is irrelevant where the author currently lives and where the book has been published.
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 Association), 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.
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.
The Emerging Translator Mentorships Programme is supported by Arts Council England, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, the Italian Cultural Institute, the Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities at UCLA and Waseda University, the Literary Translation Institute of Korea, the Polish Cultural Institute, the Québec Government Office in London, the National Arts Council Singapore, the Society of Authors and ProHelvetia.