Announcing a New Publishing Project and a Call for Co-Editors: Best Translations: An Annual Anthology

December 9, 2020
A top down photograph of a desk cluttered with books and a computer monitor nearby
Photo by Wendy Call / www.wendycall.com

Extended Deadline for Applications: Monday, February 1, 2021

Call for Applications: Two series co-editors, one with expertise in Asian literatures and one with expertise in Middle Eastern and/or African literatures, for Best Translations: An Annual Anthology, a new publishing project

Best Translations is a new initiative: an annual anthology of best literary translations, published by U.S. translators, of short-form literature from around the world. This new annual anthology will operate in the tradition of the “Best American” series by showcasing another great form of U.S. literary production: literature in translation. This project, an independent initiative, has been formally endorsed by the board of directors of ALTA, the American Literary Translators Association.

The Best Translations anthology will showcase the most exemplary literary translations into English by U.S. translators. Translators can include anyone living in the U.S., and U.S. citizens living abroad, who had work published by U.S. literary journals during the previous year. Selection criteria will include both the quality of the finished translation and an assessment of the translation against the original work. Best Translations offers the best of global literature, brought to a broad audience of U.S. readers by outstanding U.S. translators.

Three series editors will represent languages from diverse geographies, especially Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas. Wendy Call, associate professor of English at Pacific Lutheran University, who translates from Spanish, will serve as series editor for the Americas. We are seeking two co-editors, one to be responsible primarily for translations of Asian literatures and one primarily for African and Middle Eastern literatures. (All three co-editors will review translations from Europe.) Daniel Simon, editor in chief of World Literature Today, is a consulting editor for the anthology.

The three co-editors will become full professional and creative partners in this endeavor, collaborating on all aspects of fundraising; seeking and working with a publisher; encouraging and evaluating submissions; and working with an annual guest editor and selected translators and authors.

The editorial team, once finalized, with begin to seek funding and a publisher for the project in February 2021.[i] Our intent is to launch the first volume in autumn 2022, featuring translations that appeared in print during 2021.

The three series co-editors will comb literary journals and magazines for translations of poetry, short prose (both fiction and nonfiction), and hybrid-genre works. All literary journals based in the U.S. or including U.S.-based editors will be invited to nominate up to seven individual works, using the Submittable platform. Given the contemporary focus of most literary journals, we anticipate that the bulk of each anthology will feature works by contemporary authors, but any new—and newly published—translation of historical literature is eligible. (Unpublished translations, work appearing on personal blogs, and work appearing in book form only would be ineligible.) Translators will also be welcome to self-nominate their publications.

The three series editors will create a longlist of notable publications, from which an invited guest editor chooses the winning works for the anthology. (The guest editor will change each year.) The original text of all chosen works will be reviewed by a translator working in that language, as a final measure of quality, but would not be published in the anthology.

While we will seek funding for this initiative to offer all co-editors a stipend, this is currently a new, unfunded project. If we are unable to secure funding to provide stipends for the co-editors and also the guest editors, the project will not be pursued.

To apply for this position, please submit:

(1) a detailed letter of interest, with your full contact information, describing your linguistic/geographical expertise;

(2) a résumé or CV that details your experience with literary translation, editing, and project administration and includes a publication list;

(3) a short sample of your published literary translation work in English (we suggest 5 pages for poetry and 10 pages for prose, along with the original text); and

(4) full contact information for two English-speaking professional references, with a short explanation of how they know you and your work.

We especially welcome applications from BIPOC and emerging translators. All applicants should self-identify as U.S. translators but may live and work anywhere in the world. All materials should be submitted via email to [email protected] by Monday, February 1, 2021, at 8:00pm Eastern / 5:00pm Pacific time. A short application form will be sent for you to complete once we receive your full application via email. Questions and inquiries are most welcome via email to Wendy Call.

We will contact finalist candidates by mid-February to set up interviews.

 

[i] We envision approaching Houghton Mifflin Harcourt about including the translation anthology in the tradition of their Best American series: Essays, Mystery, Sci Fi & Fantasy, Science & Nature Writing, Short Stories, and Travel Writing.

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