English PEN has launched PEN Presents, a platform to showcase and support sample translations, including funding literary translators' work of creating samples, giving publishers access to titles from underrepresented languages and regions, and helping diversify the translated literature landscape.
The initiative follows a 2021 research collaboration between English PEN and Translating Women, which consulted with translators, agents, publishers and literature organizations, and found a widespread desire for an initiative supporting and showcasing sample translations. The research found that funding the unpaid labor of sample translations was seen as a vital part of efforts to increase accessibility and diversify the literary translation community. PEN Presents will initially run in 2022–23, with the aim of becoming a long-term, permanent program.
"I am delighted that, after intense conversation with the sector about the pressing needs for translated literature, we are launching this program for the benefit of translators, publishers and, ultimately, readers," said Will Forrester, translation & international manager at English PEN. "PEN Presents is about diversifying the literary landscape, about connecting translators and publishers more closely, and about recognizing the ways in which pay and conditions are fundamental to efforts to make the translation community accessible and inclusive. We're excited to see the literature and voices that emerge from the initiative."
PEN Presents launches with two rounds. The first will open to submissions from translators on July 1 and focus on literatures of the languages of India. The second round will open January 1, 2023, and be open to all languages, regions, forms and genres. The selection of proposals for PEN Presents will be overseen by Preti Taneja and So Mayer, co-chairs of English PEN's Translation Advisory Group.
In England, the run up this week to Platinum Jubilee Central Weekend includes the Reading Agency and BBC's Big Jubilee Read campaign, celebrating great books from authors across the Commonwealth to coincide with the Queen's festivities. To create the list, 10 iconic titles were selected from each decade of Queen Elizabeth II's reign, and organizers say the campaign "will enable readers to engage in the discovery and celebration of great books, while shining a spotlight on lesser-known works and authors deserving greater recognition."
Karen Napier, CEO of the Reading Agency, said: "We're thrilled to be partnering with BBC to celebrate the proven power of reading at this historic moment of national celebration. The Reading Agency hugely values the support of our library partners bringing this fantastic book list to life in the heart of communities across the country this summer."
There's also a roster of Big Jubilee Read events organized by the Reading Agency and Libraries Connected. Run in collaboration with six regional Libraries Connected Networks, the series will be streamed on YouTube and accompany the Big Jubilee Read booklist, exploring six key themes influencing writing, including journeys and migration, multiculturalism and diversity.
Many indie booksellers are also in a Jubilee mood, including:
Wallingford Bookshop, Wallingford: "Fiona has cut out these colorful red and blue corgies for our Jubilee window. Let the celebrations begin. Whoop!"
White Rose Books & Coffee Bar, Thirsk: "Take a break and try the Queen's Jubilee BLT Stack or our delicious Triple Layer Cake, with a Tea or Filter Coffee." And: "From Thurs 2nd June to Sat 4th June we are closed, and we wish you all a happy Jubilee Weekend."
Maldon Books, Maldon: "Did somebody say party?! We're open every day across the Jubilee weekend with the following hours: Enjoy yourselves, and give these two a little wave if you're passing!"
Stanfords Travel, London: "A jubilee edition of #dogsinbookshops thanks to a visit from Tayto the corgi."
The European & International Booksellers Federation showcased the Apollo bookstore chain in Estonia, which opened its first store in 2000 and has grown to 18 bookstores, while also expanding its presence in various nonbook-related businesses. At the recent International Booksellers Conference in Sharjah, Agne Ahi, Apollo's product manager of foreign-language books, "highlighted the chain's diversification model and explored how this allowed the bookshop side of business to thrive," EIBF noted.
"We decided not to diversify just inside the stores, focusing on what we sell, but the business itself. By 2016, we created what we like to call the Apollo entertainment complex. This includes bookstores, cinemas, and restaurants. To combine these together, we created Apollo loyalty club," Ahi said.
Ahi was on a conference panel spotlighting how diversification can work in practice and looking at experiences from four countries. "From cinema partnerships to innovative book-tuk truck that bring books to children in rural areas in India, the panelists highlighted the important role of bookselling for enabling access to books and culture to all," EIBF noted. --Robert Gray