On January 10, 2023, the National Endowment for the Arts announced that Sabrina Jaszi and Ena Selimović were among the 22 translators selected to receive a Literature Translation Fellowship! These fellowships will support the translation of Semyon Lipkin's Dekada from Russian and Đurđa Knežević's Vanilla Ice Cream from Croatian into English.
In total, the NEA will award $300,000 in grants to support the translation into English of works written in 10 different languages from 16 countries.
“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support the translators of these fascinating projects from around the world,” said the NEA’s Director of Literary Arts Amy Stolls. “We recognize the knowledge, skill, and artistry it takes to render literature from other languages into English and are pleased to provide these translators with the means to focus on their work.”
About the projects
Born in Odessa to Jewish parents, Lipkin (1911-2003) is best known as a Russian translator of Central Asian and Caucasian literature who dedicated himself to promoting little-heard non-Russian perspectives. Due to Soviet limitations, he struggled to publish his own work, which explores themes of history, philosophy, politics, and religion. Dekada was released in New York in 1983, appearing later in Russia on the eve of the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1990. The novel’s characters are informed by Lipkin’s experiences as a Red Army correspondent and behind-the-scenes literary force. You can read more about Sabrina's project here.
Đurđa Knežević is an extraordinary figure in the cultural and political sphere in southeastern Europe today. Her public activity was initially connected to political activism, while she began writing literature later—leading her into a different sphere of resistance. Knežević has published six novels, a book of essays, and an illustrated children’s book. Sladoled od vanilije (Vanilla Ice Cream), published by Fraktura in 2012, is her fourth novel. Among its most important features is that it challenges the balkanization metaphor, which stands in for the widely circulated myth that renders the Balkans foundational to territorial separation along racialized, so-called ethnic lines. Both the intensification of race politics and nationalism by right-wing governments and the social anxiety that has resulted from the pandemic make the translation of Vanilla Ice Cream into English an especially urgent project. You can read more about Ena's project here.
Since 1981, the NEA has awarded 572 fellowships to 503 literary translators, with translations
representing 79 languages and 88 countries. Visit arts.gov to browse bios and artist statements
from all of the 2023 recipients and past Literature Translation Fellows.