Armory Square Ventures Announces Groundbreaking Translation Prize to Boost Literary Creativity and Expand the Reach of South Asian Literature

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SKANEATELES, NY–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Armory Square Ventures, a New York State-wide technology venture capital firm, today announced the launch of the Armory Square Award for South Asian Literature in Translation. The new annual prize rewards a talented literary translator with the publication of a book. The winning manuscript, selected by a jury of peers, will be a translation of a literary work from a South Asian language into English.

The inaugural award aims to train a new generation of literary translators working with South Asian languages. The competition is also an effort to address the stark disparities in literary translation around the world and support compelling storytellers from the Indian subcontinent by recognizing them within the literary ecosystem.

“Despite the wealth and importance of literary work in South Asian languages, the investment associated with translating this canon into English has always been limited,” says Pia Sawhney, partner and co-founder of Armory Square Ventures and former journalist. and documentary filmmaker. “At Armory Square, we recognize entrepreneurial talent early on and value risk taking. We hope the prize will do the same and awaken a new space for literary creativity and industry.

“Our investments consistently instill optimism and momentum in promising but overlooked areas of the United States,” says Sawhney. “With this award, we aim to build bridges for the future between readers in the United States and those in Asia. We are delighted to collaborate with such an accomplished and extraordinary jury, and we could not be happier to have the privilege of presenting English-speaking readers with a fresh and provocative new body of literature.

The Armory Square Award for South Asian Literature in Translation was created to inspire new directions for translators into English from one of the most diverse, historically complex and culturally dynamic regions in the world. Of the nearly 7,600 books published in translation in the United States over the past decade, only 64, or less than 1%, were from a South Asian language, even though these languages ​​are spoken by a good fifth of world population.

In contrast, there is an overwhelming prevalence of translated literature from European languages ​​in the United States. Recent initiatives supporting translations from Norwegian, Korean and Arabic, for example, have had a tangible impact on the number of books translated and published from these languages ​​into English.

The new award will be open to translators of literature written by a South Asian author in a language other than English. Any work from a narrative prose book, fiction or non-fiction by a South Asian author (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Maldives or Diaspora) will be eligible.

The jury for the prize, which includes Sawhney, brings together award-winning specialists in South Asian and non-South Asian literary translation. Originally from Buffalo, the president of the jury, Jason Grunebaum, is a literary translator from Hindi and a teaching professor at the University of Chicago. He is a translator of Manzoor Ahtesham and Uday Prakash, among other Hindi writers, and teaches both Hindi and literary translation.

The full list of judges includes (in alphabetical order):

  • Jason Grunebaum (Jury Chair), Hindi Translator: Shortlisted for DSC Award for South Asian Literature, NEA Literature in Translation Fellowship Winner, PEN Translation Fund Fellowship Winner/ heim.

  • Shahnaz Habib, Malayalam Translator: Winner of the JCB Prize for Literature.

  • Anton Hur, Korean translator: shortlisted International Booker 2022, double shortlisted International Booker 2022, winner of the PEN/Heim Translation Fund scholarship and the PEN translates award.

  • Daisy Rockwell, Hindi and Urdu Translator: 2022 International Booker Winner, MLA Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Award Winner.

  • Pia Sawhney, Partner, Armory Square Ventures: Former winner of the Amnesty International DOEN Human Rights Award for her work as a documentary filmmaker and journalist.

  • Arunava Sinha, Bangla Translator: 2022 Vani Foundation Emeritus Translator Award Winner, Twice Crossword Translation Award Winner, Shortlisted for Independent Foreign Fiction Award, Shortlisted for National Translation Award.

  • Jeffrey Zuckerman, French translator: Shortlisted for the PEN Translation Prize, the Best Translated Book Award, the Albertine Prize, the TA First Translation Prize, and winner of a grant from the PEN/Heim Translation Fund and the Grand Prix des Voix françaises 2019 .

“It’s a rewarding and incredible opportunity,” says Grunebaum. “This award brings together all parts of the literary ecosystem needed to bring good translations of South Asian literature to libraries. Translators will find writers and works they will fall in love with and translate, and editors and publishers will discover new voices for readers seeking different types of storytellers. It will also be a space to build ongoing and lasting relationships between publishers from the subcontinent and those beyond.

The award jury will first and foremost look at the quality of the translation, paying particular attention to the creative and clever solutions the translator used to overcome the translation challenges posed by the job. The jury will also consider the importance of the original work and its author, and the extent to which the language and the author are underrepresented in English.

The deadline for applications is December 31, 2022. The shortlist will be announced in March 2023. Excerpts from the shortlisted works will be published and featured by Words Without Borders, an online literary publication with global reach. The final winner will be announced in April 2023, and the winner’s book will be published by Open Letter Books in the fall of 2024. The Armory Square Prize for South Asian Literature in Translation is sponsored by Armory Square Ventures.

Please visit the Armory Square Ventures website for more information and application instructions.

About Armory Square Ventures in Skaneateles, New York

Armory Square Ventures (ASV) is a leading, diversified technology venture capital firm striving to be a community catalyst across New York State. With offices in the Finger Lakes and New York, ASV was born out of a desire to create opportunities and jobs for people based in our region and beyond. As such, we are an engine of optimism for ecosystems outside of Silicon Valley, supporting B2B software and technology startups to find talent, resources and capital. We focus on places overlooked by other investors. The fund’s investments include ACV Auctions (NASDAQ: ACVA), Agronomic Technology Corporation (acquired by Yara), BentoBox CMS (acquired by Fiserv), Clerio Vision, Good Uncle (acquired by Aramark), Heretto, RealEats, Squarefoot, StorySlab, Vengo Labs, Vizbee, UCM Digital, 8B and Moxie.

For more information, visit: www.armorysv.com.

About Open Letter Books in Rochester, New York

Open Letter, the non-profit literary translation press of the University of Rochester, is one of the few publishing houses dedicated to increasing access to world literature for English readers. Publishing ten titles in translation each year and hosting an online literary site called Three Percent, Open Letter seeks extraordinary and influential works, works that we hope will become the classics of tomorrow.

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