Applications for translation grants into other languages break all records

In 2020 applications for translation grants into foreign languages total a record 147

6. November, 2020

Interest in Icelandic literature is keen internationally, as witness the record number of applications for translations grants received by the Icelandic Literature Center. Grants have been awarded for 111 translations from Icelandic into 28 languages. Applications totalled 147 this year, a record-breaking number.

In 2020 the board of the Iceland Literature Center has allocated grants for translations of Icelandic works into other languages amounting to nearly ISK 24 million.

Applications totalled 147, of which 31 were for translations into other Nordic languages. Grants have been allocated to 111 translations into 28 languages; the largest numbers are for translations into Danish (13), English (9), German (8) and French (7).

For comparison, the previous record for applications was in 2017, when 119 applications were made, 21 of them for translations into Nordic languages.

The increase in applications is partly attributable to a pan-Nordic initiative launched in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Clear and growing interest in Icelandic literature specifically has also been discernible over recent months.

Nordic Literature Centers join forces during the coronavirus pandemic

In response to this year‘s pandemic, NordLit – the organisation of literature centers of the Nordic countries – united to frame a common policy to raise translation grants in 2020 to cover 50% of costs. This step was taken in order to encourage publishers around the world to continue to translate and publish Nordic creative writing, scholarly works, general-interest books, and books for children and young readers, thus responding to the impact of the situation on publishing and on the work of authors and translators.

In short, the initiative has proved a resounding success, and the literature centers of all the Nordic countries received a record number of applications in the latter months of 2020.

Translation grants have been awarded inter alia for the following titles:

The largest number of grants this year are for translations into Danish, a total of thirteen, including Um tímann og vatnið by Andri Snær Magnason (translator Nanna Kalkar, publ. Klim) and Kláði by Fríða Ísberg (translator Kim Lembek, publ. Forlaget Torgard).

The second-largest number of grants are for translation into English, numbering nine, Including Sálumessa by Gerður Kristný (translator Rory McTurk, publ. Arc Publications) and Refurinn by Sólveig Pálsdóttir (translator Quentin Bates, publ. Corlylus Books).

Grants were awarded for eight translations into German, among them Ungfrú Ísland by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir (translator Tina Flecken, publ. Insel verlag) and Sagnalandið – landið mitt by Halldór Guðmundsson (translator Kristof Magnusson, publ. Verlagshaus Römerweg GmbH).

Seven translations into French received grants, including Tvöfalt gler by Halldóra Thoroddsen (translator Jean-Christoph Salaün, publ. Les Editions Bleu et Jaune) and Korngult hár, grá augu by Sjón (translator Eric Boury, publ. Editions Métailié).

As a matter of interest, the book for which the largest number of grant applications was received is Um tímann og vatnið by Andri Snær Magnason. This year fourteen translation grants have been allocated for the book, which will soon be available in Arabic, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish and Spanish. It has been translated into more than twenty languages.


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