Translation Grants: How to Publish a Brazilian Author for Free (Almost)

Brazil has committed $35.5 million to translating, publishing and promoting its authors abroad.

In July this year the Brazilian National Library Foundation (FBN) established the International Book Center (CIL) to promote Brazilian literature abroad through translation grants. The FBN, which is also responsible for reading incentive programs in Brazil, together with the Brazilian government, has committed US$35.5 million to the program through the year 2020. It includes several distinct elements.

Fábio Lima coordinates the Translation Grants Program of the Brazilian National Library

1) Grants valued at US$4,000 per title are available to publishers and translators willing to publish Brazilian authors abroad. The grants are available for fiction and humanities books, and very soon it will also include STM (scientific, technical, medical) books. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Fifty titles are expected to be funded and published yearly.

2) The FBN will grant up to US$7,500 for foreign translators working on Brazilian texts to travel to and live in Brazil for five weeks. The goal is to help translators learn about Brazilian culture and language and participate in professional activities. Ten translators will be funded in the first year.

3) The program offers support to publishers who wish to invite Brazilian authors to travel in support of their books at foreign fairs, book signings and workshops abroad.

4) Finally, the program offers up to US$3,000 to publishers from Portuguese-speaking countries to publish Brazilian authors.

While government incentives to publish Brazilian literature abroad have existed since 1991, revised incentive programs were initially announced in July 2011 in anticipation of Brazil’s participation at the Frankfurt Book Fair as Guest of Honor in 2013—as well as other international events, such as the Bologna Book Fair, where Brazil will be Guest of Honor in 2014.

The results of the revised program have been staggering, with 116 projects approved in the first year—a notable increase from the previous period between 1991 and 2010, when a total of 178 projects were given grants. As of August 2011, the programs also now cover digital projects.

Between July 2011 and July 2012, Germany received the most grants—a total of 16—followed by Romania (15), Spain (13), France (11), Italy (11), Uruguay (7), Argentina (6), United Kingdom (6), USA (4), Sweden (3), Mexico (2), Holland (2), Egypt (2), Croatia (2) and China (2).

The list of the most translated authors is a mix of classic authors such as Machado de Assis and Lima Barreto, and contemporary writers, like João Paulo Cuenca and Luiz Ruffato. The three most translated authors, both in the last decade and in the last year, were Clarice Lispector, Jorge Amado and Moacyr Scliar. Lispector, in particular, proved popular, with her work represented by 12 publishers from 8 different countries.

“These programs are an essential incentive to promote Brazilian literature and help writers get published abroad” says Fábio Lima, coordinator of the grants program at the National Library.

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