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The start of a professional path for Lithuanian literary translators – with experienced mentors

Lithuanian Culture Institute

In preparation for presenting Lithuania as part of the Baltic countries which will be the Market Focus countries at The London Book Fair 2018, two initiatives were started in the UK in October this year aimed at promoting professionalism in translating works of Lithuanian literature into English. They are the Mentorship programme for emerging literary translators run by the Writers’ Centre Norwich and the Market Focus Lithuania Translation Fellowship. Lithuania’s participation in these programmes was initiated by the Lithuanian Culture Institute.

Both of these programmes started symbolically on International Translation Day, the annual event that took place at the British Library on 2nd October. It was announced that Lithuanian language will be included in the Mentorship programme for emerging literary translators run by the Writers’ Centre Norwich, and that the winner of the 2017-2018 competition is translator, editor and publicist Erika Lastovskytė who resides in the UK. The majority of the selected participants for the Market Focus Lithuania Translation Fellowship also attended the event at the British Library. This was the first focused event in the prepared programme of activities designed to help these emerging translators to integrate into the professional community.

The 2017 International Literary Translation and Creative Writing Summer School organised in collaboration between Writers’ Centre Norwich and the British Centre for Literary Translation and held at the University of East Anglia last summer provided an opportunity to discover a number of prospective literary translators and encourage them to continue translating.

Four of them were selected for the Market Focus Lithuania Translation Fellowship programme organised by the Lithuanian Cultural Institute and the British Council. The selected translators Jeremy Hill, John Evans, Agnė Bagočiūtė and Julija Gulbinovič will work with mentors Marta Dziurosz, Jen Calleja, Ruth Clarke and Nichola Smalley who are all experienced translators collaborating with publishers of translated literature and the media. This programme has started in October 2017 and will continue until September 2018. The participants will have an opportunity to develop professionally, to integrate into the community of translators working in Great Britain, and take part in various focused events in London (starting from International Translation Day at the British Library, the Baltic Countries Market Focus Rights Forum that took place on 21st November, the upcoming Lithuanian into English translation workshops, the Translation Symposium to take place in April 2018 and the London Book Fair 2018).

Similar structure will be applied to the Writers’ Centre Norwich Mentorship programme for emerging translators for which Erika Lastovskytė was selected. She will be mentored by Shaun Whiteside who has translated over 50 books from German, French, Italian and Dutch. Whiteside’s translations are published by Penguin Classics, he has received a number of awards and is a member of the advisory board of the British Centre for Literary Translation. The mentor will not only help the translator to work on specific texts but will also advise her on all the aspects of a professional translator’s activity, such as management, terminology, financial and legal issues, relations with publishers and other. E. Lastovskytė will also participate in various focused industry events and the London Book Fair 2018.

„Partnership with Writers’ Centre Norwich, the British Centre for Literary Translation and the British Council enables us to discover new translators who translate into English, and help them become professionals and true ambassadors of Lithuanian literature in the UK. Lithuania’s participation in the London Book Fair 2018 Baltic Countries Market Focus programme undoubtedly adds speed to this process. We are hoping that the initiatives that are currently starting and gathering force will continue after the book fair, and that Lithuanian literature will find more and more publishers and readers in the English-speaking world“, said Rūta Nanartavičiūtė, Head of Projects and Programmes Department of the Lithuanian Culture Institute.