Dear Friends and Fellow Translators,
Good news for translators of Indonesian literature! The government of Indonesia, through the Ministry of Edukcation and Culture, has (finally) established a translation funding program. Details on the program, known as the “I-Lit (Indonesian Literarature in Translation) Program” may be found at www.indonesiafbf.com, the website being developed for Indonesia’s role as guest of honor country at the 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF).
The government aims to support the translation of 200 books into German and/or English and their publication before October 2015, in time for FBF-2015. Although I am not at all certain that this target can or will be reached, the bottom line is that the government has committed to funding the translation of 200 books at international translation rates! This means, for those of you who like to translate literature, the possibility of actually earning a halfway decent income from the translation of Indonesian literature into German or English for the next two years to come. (As of now, the I-Lit program is only set to run for two years but numerous parties are lobbying to have this program become a permanent post in the State budget.)
The availability and size of a subsidy granted for a literary translation will depend on several factors: the length of the work, the literary value of the work, and the professionalism of the translator. Two independent evaluation teams have been established to judge “literary quality” and “accuracy of translation”. No subsidies will be granted for either the translation of works or negligent literary quality or poor translations. (Applicants for a translation subsidy must submit, along with their application, a sample translation 5-10 pages in length by the translator who has been hired or who has committed to translate the work.)
Translators—not just publishers—are encouraged to apply for translation grants but may only do so on their own if they can prove to have obtained the right to translate and publish a work in a foreign language (English or German) from the work’s copyright holder. Professional translators with a proven translation record may apply on their own but new or unproven translators must first find a Publisher to agree to publish their translation and to submit the application on their behalf. Translators interested in applying for grants are free to approach any English- or German-language publisher but I can almost guarantee that if the work a translator selects to translate is judged by Lontar’s own editorial board to be suitable for translation into English, the independent evaluation team will reach the same conclusion.
I hope that as many translators as possible will take advantage of this opportunity and help to introduce more Indonesian literary titles to the world. Please forward this message to anyone you think might want to apply for a grant. Feel free to rewrite and post this message on your personal blogs and websites.
Because of the now-urgent need for professional translators of Indonesian to English and German, I am receiving more and more requests from other Indonesian publishers for the names and contact information of professional, “native-speaker quality” translators. In order to handle these queries more quickly and efficiently, I am building a database with information on translators of Indonesian (and other languages of Indonesia). Although for the time being grants are being given only for translations into German and English, I would like to obtain information on translators into other languages as well. If you are interested in having your name included in this database, please fill out the information sheet and return it to me (john_mcglynn@lontar.
All the best! Salam sejahtera,
John H. McGlynn