Call for an Africa / African Diaspora Co-Editor for the Best Translations Anthology

March 10, 2021
An organized desk with books and papers on it
Photo by Wendy Call

Best Translations: An Annual Anthology

an independent project endorsed by the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA)

Call for an Africa / African Diaspora Co-Editor

Deadline for Applications: Thursday, April 1, 2021

Call for Applications: A series co-editor for expertise in African and/or African diasporic 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 published in U.S. literary journals in the previous year, brought into English by U.S. translators. All applicants should self-identify as U.S. translators but may live and work anywhere in the world. 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.

Four series co-editors will support the making of this anthology with their linguistic and cultural expertise. The other three co-editors are Wendy Call (responsible primarily for translations of literatures from the Americas), Jae Kim (responsible primarily for translations of Asian literatures), and Alana Levinson-LaBrosse (responsible primarily for translations of Middle Eastern literatures). We are seeking a fourth co-editor, with expertise in African and/or African diasporic literatures. (All four co-editors will work collaboratively to review translations from Europe.) Daniel Simon, editor in chief of World Literature Today, is a consulting editor for the anthology.

All four series 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.

Our intent is to launch the first volume in autumn 2022, featuring translations that appeared in print during 2021.

The four 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 only in book form or in non-U.S. journals is ineligible.) Translators will also be welcome to self-nominate their publications.

The four series co-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.

We are seeking funding for this initiative to offer all co-editors a stipend, and the project will be pursued on the condition that we’re able to secure funding.

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 material should be submitted via email to [email protected] by Thursday, April 1, 2021, at 8:00 pm Eastern / 5:00 pm Pacific time. Questions and inquiries are most welcome via email.

We intend to complete the selection process by late April.