ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorships

ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorships

The ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorship Program is designed to facilitate and establish a close working relationship between an experienced translator and an emerging translator on a project selected by the emerging translator. The mentorship duration is approximately one year, and the emerging translator is expected to choose a project that can be completed in a year’s time and will only be advised on that particular project.

The mentor and mentee will meet at the beginning of their mentorship at the annual ALTA conference, and continue their work during the rest of the mentorship year, either in person, over Skype, or by phone as appropriate. A minimum of six meetings is expected for the course of the year. The mentorship will conclude with a presentation of the mentee’s work in a reading corresponding with National Translation Month. A number of magazine editors have agreed to review submissions directly from mentees at the end of their mentorship year, and to work with them on potential future projects. The award covers travel to the ALTA conference at the beginning of the mentorship. 

The program is open to emerging translators at no cost to them. An emerging translator is someone who has published no more than one full length work of translation. MFA and MA students in translation can apply, but priority may be given to those who do not have access to the kind of guidance already present in a translation degree program. Though English is the target language, the emerging translator need not live in the United States. The selected mentee’s proposed project will be worked on based on availability (applicants are not expected to secure rights for their proposal).

This program is distinct from the ALTA Travel Fellowships. Applicants may apply to both programs in the same year, but only may only receive one award. Previous years' Fellows are welcome to apply for the Mentorship.

2017-2018 mentorship languages will be announced and applications will be invited in spring 2017. 

Previous years have included mentorships working from the following languages: 

  • Catalan, with mentor Ronald Puppo (2015-2016)
  • French, with mentors Emmanuelle Ertel (2016-2017) and Alyson Waters (2015-2016)
  • Polish, with mentor Bill Johnston (2016-2017, 2015-2016)
  • Russian, with mentor Marian Schwartz (2016-2017)
  • A Singaporean national language (Malay, Mandarin Chinese, and Tamil), with mentor Jeremy Tiang (2016-2017) and applications judged by Alvin Pang

These mentorships are offered by ALTA in partnership with the Institut Ramon Llull, The French Embassy Books Office, Polish Cultural Institute New York, the Russian Federation Institute of Literary Translation, and the National Arts Council of Singapore.

Applications must be submitted online through our submission platform and must include:

  • CV
  • A project proposal of no more than 1000 words. Projects must be reasonably expected to be completed within the scope of the 1-year mentorship. Proposals should include information about the original author and importance of the source text, as well as how the emerging translator would benefit from mentorship. One round of judging will be blind, so the translator’s name should NOT appear anywhere on this document.
  • A sample translation of 8-10 pages double spaced (prose or poetry), along with the corresponding source text. One round of judging will be blind, so the translator’s name should NOT appear anywhere on this document.

If you have any questions, please contact Allison Charette, Program Committee chair, at: allisoncharette[at]


2016-2017 MENTORS

Emmanuelle Ertel is an Associate Professor of contemporary French literature and translation at New York University. She’s been running New York University’s M.A. program in Literary Translation: French to English for the past five years.  She is also a professional translator.  Among her translations of American novels into French are Louis Begley’s The Man Who Was Late and As Max Saw It, Rick Moody’s The Black Veil, and Tom Perrotta’s Little Children and The Leftovers. She is currently translating Hanyah Yanagihara’s Little Life, which was shortlisted for both the National Book Award and the Man Booker Prize this past year.

Bill Johnston is Henry Remak Professor of Comparative Literature at Indiana University. He has published about thirty book-length translations from the Polish, including poetry, prose, and drama. He has won numerous awards, including the Best Translated Book Award, the PEN Translation Prize, the AATSEEL Translation Prize (twice), and the Found in Translation Award. He has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Foundation. His most recent translations include Wiesław Myśliwski’s novel A Treatise on Shelling Beans (Archipelago Books, 2013) and Tomasz Różycki’s mock epic poem Twelve Stations (Zephyr Press, 2015).

Marian Schwartz is a freelance literary translator of Russian classic and contemporary fiction, history, biography, criticism, and fine art. She is the principal English translator of the works of Nina Berberova, translated Edvard Radzinsky’s The Last Tsar, and has retranslated half a dozen Russian classics, including Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Other recent publications include Andrei Gelasimov’s Rachel and Daria Wilke’s Playing a Part. She is a Past President of the American Literary Translators Association and the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowships and the 2014 Read Russia Prize for Contemporary Russian Literature, among other awards.

Jeremy Tiang has adapted the classic novel Hong Lou Meng for the stage, and translated plays by Cao Yu, Han Lao Da, and Xu Nuo, and ten volumes of fiction/essays by Yu Qiuyu, Zhang Yueran and Chan Ho-kei, and received a PEN/ Heim Translation Grant and NEA Literary Translation Fellowship.

Alvin Pang is a poet, writer, editor, anthologist and translator from Singapore. Author of over a dozen books, including several seminal anthologies of Singaporean literature, his writing has been translated into over fifteen languages, and he appears regularly in major publications and literary events worldwide. A Board Member of the University of Canberra’s International Poetry Studies Institute and a Fellow of the Iowa International Writing Program, he also directs The Literary Centre (Singapore), a non-profit initiative promoting interdisciplinary capacity, inter-cultural communication, and positive social change,  through literature. He was Singapore’s Young Artist of the Year for Literature in 2005.