In December 2019, the Petőfi Literary Fund invited applications for its first translation grant. The amount of the tender, which is intended to promote the translation and publication of works of Hungarian literature abroad, was many times higher than the amount budgeted in previous similar tenders. The books, which have been granted support were announced on Thursday, April 30, 2020
The primary task of the Petőfi Literary Fund, which was created with the merger of the Hungarian Books and Translations Office of the Petőfi Literary Museum and the Publishing Hungary program, is to promote and popularize Hungarian literature abroad. The portfolio of PLF includes the organization of the Hungarian presence at international book fairs, management of the grant portfolio, and the publication of 1749, a magazine on world literature. The Petőfi Literary Fund also works together with almost innumerable institutions abroad to familiarize international readerships with classics from the Hungarian literary tradition and works of contemporary Hungarian literature.
One of the most important pillars in the promotion of literature abroad is the translation support tender. As Dániel Levente Pál, the General Manager of PLF responsible for literary export and import, explains, “When Szilárd Demeter, the Director General of Petőfi Literary Museum, asked me to do the preparatory work for the transformation of the translation grant system for Hungarian literature, I drew considerable support from the philosophies and approaches of the institutions which, over the course of the past ten or fifteen years, have stepped across the invisible frontier and helped transform their national literatures into world literature and garner successes abroad for authors who had already established themselves in their homelands.”
He adds, “In addition to the increase in the support provided for the tender, the network system approach to new applications will be the major change. In the efforts to promote Hungarian literature abroad, which are now under the umbrella of a single agency, nothing will be left to chance, nor will there be any miscommunications or misunderstandings. We can get the most out of a given work of Hungarian literature if we keep in mind that everything is interconnected and we take these interconnections into consideration. For instance, before we reach any decisions concerning a tender, it is worth knowing what events and appearances we have arranged abroad for the next two to five years and how we can use books translated into foreign languages effectively to strengthen our international ties. At the moment, for instance, we have put Central European and Spanish translations in the foreground.”
The first call does not seek to break with current practice. It is intended to help further the translation into foreign languages of Hungarian works selected for publication by foreign publishers. Based on the decision of a jury of experts who represent the world of publishing and literary life, 31 applicants will be granted support the total amount of which has roughly tripled to 70,500 EUR (approximately 25,000,000 million HUF).
The jury of experts consisted of representatives of academic life (Péter Radics of the Digital Literary Academy and Dr. István Kovács of the Literary Branch of the Hungarian Academy of Arts), people “actively at work in the field of world literature” (Anikó Ádám of the Hungarian Association of Literary Translators and Endre Farkas Wellmann of the Hungarian PEN Club), a delegate of the Hungarian Publishers’ and Booksellers’ Association (Bence Sárközy), and a representative of another literary journal which helped in the work of the jury on a case by case basis (Attila Thimár, the editor-in-chief of Kortárs). Zoltán Jeney and Dániel Levente Pál were also on the jury as representatives of the Petőfi Literary Fund.
In the second half of June 2020, the Petőfi Literary Fund will announce a new call for applications. Alongside the traditional grants provided for the translation and the publication of works of Hungarian literature, support is also being offered for budding and seasoned translators, Hungarian publishers who wish to prepare sample translations from their works in the hopes of catching attention abroad, and theaters and theater companies interested in producing classics from the Hungarian dramatic tradition and works of contemporary Hungarian drama.
You can download the list of books which have been granted support by the Petőfi Literary Fund (Spring 2020):
List of books which have been granted support 2020/I