The Lithuanian Culture Institute has allocated grants for as many as 36 translations of works by Lithuanian authors into 19 foreign languages. Almost 80 thousand euros will help the most relevant works of Lithuanian fiction and non-fiction and illustrated books to reach their non-native readers. Among the most popular writers are Daina Opolskaitė, Kristina Sabaliauskaitė, Tomas Venclova, Jonas Mekas, Dalia Grinkevičiūtė and Kęstutis Kasparavičius. The Institute intends to allocate the same amount to new translations of Lithuanian literary works and their publication abroad in the coming autumn.
Foreign publishers value literary works that have received international recognition
This spring, funding has been allocated for as many as 17 translations of works of fiction and non-fiction into various foreign languages. Books by Lithuanian authors that won international awards received the most attention from foreign publishers. The collection of short stories Pyramids of Days (Dienų piramidės) by Daina Opolskaitė, which was awarded the European Union Prize for Literature in 2019, will be translated into three languages – Italian, Polish and Macedonian.
Adriano Cerri, the translator of the book into Italian, shared that Opolskaitė’s Pyramids of Days was chosen for publication by the successful Italian publishing house Iperborea, which over the past three decades has published the most important literary works of Northern Europe, especially Scandinavia. Daina Opolskaitė will be the first representative of Lithuanian literature in this publisher’s catalogue. “I think that Italian readers will like the way this talented author turns the ‘dangerously banal’ lives of her characters into a ‘banally dangerous’ event,” said Cerri when asked about what, in his opinion, about Pyramids of the Days is likely to grab the attention of Italian readers.
Giedra Radvilavičiūtė’s collection of essays Tonight I Shall Sleep by the Wall (Šiąnakt aš miegosiu prie sienos) and Laura Sintija Černiauskaitė’s novel Breathing into Marble (Kvėpavimas į marmurą), for which the respective authors also received the European Union Prize for Literature, continue to retain their relevance. Černiauskaitė’s work is being translated into Greek, while Radvilavičiūtė’s collection will soon appear in Albanian.
Kristina Sabaliauskaitė’s new historical bestseller Peter’s Empress (Petro imperatorė) also attracted a lot of interest from foreign publishers. In this funding cycle, the Institute funded as many as three of its translations – into Dutch, French and Latvian. Latvian readers will be introduced to already the second part of this highly acclaimed novel, while the first book will become available in France and the Netherlands. Anita van der Molen, who is translating Peter’s Empress into Dutch, admitted that she has already translated half of the book, which she personally finds captivating, so she is sure that the novel will be a success in the Netherlands. “Dutch society is increasingly interested in the role of women in history. Their position has always been neglected, but now there is a tendency to give those prominent women a well-deserved place. Peter’s Empress fits this trend perfectly. What makes the novel even more fascinating is the writer’s choice to narrate in the first person and her main character, a woman beside Peter the Great, a figure whose name is widely known in the Netherlands,” said translator A. van der Molen.
Book lovers in neighbouring Poland will be able to read Birutė Jonuškaitė’s novel Maestro, readers in Northern Macedonia will be reached by Grigorijus Kanovičius’ The Devil’s Spell, while Antanas Škėma’s novel White Shroud (Balta drobulė) will be published in China.
Greece discovers Maironis: the poet speaks of love for the Homeland, which is very important to the Greeks
Foreign publishers will present collections of verse by Tomas Venclova, Sigitas Parulskis and Kornelijus Platelis to their respective poetry readers, as wors by some of the most frequently translated Lithuanian poets will be published in Germany, Italy and the United States.
Greek readers will have the opportunity to continue their acquaintance with the classics of Lithuanian poetry. Sotirios Souliotis, who is translating Maironis’ poems, says that the Greeks will certainly find the poet’s work compelling and relatable. “I became interested in Maironis’ poetry after translating Kristijonas Donelaitis’ The Seasons. I think that if the Greeks were interested in Donelaitis, they are very likely to be interested in Maironis, too. He is even closer to the Greeks than Donelaitis, because he talks about love for the Homeland, which is very important to us,” shared the literary translator Souliotis.
The world shows interest in extraordinary Lithuanian personalities and their experiences
Two new translations of Lithuanian non-fiction will also reach foreign readers. Dalia Grinkevičiūtė’s memoirs Lithuanians by the Laptev Sea (Lietuviai prie Laptevų jūros) will be published in Albania. To date, the Institute has funded 8 translations of Grinkevičiūtė’s memoirs into English, Spanish, Polish, Dutch, French, Serbian, Finnish and German. These exceptional recollections of deportation and the story of how they were written continuously attract the attention of foreign readers and critics.
The book Conversations with Film-Makers: Movie Journal Columns from 1961 to 1975 by the pioneer of avant-garde cinema and poet Jonas Mekas will be translated into Chinese. The Lithuanian Culture Institute seeks to contribute to the popularisation of Jonas Mekas’ creative legacy and has so far provided funding for 8 translations of his poetry into English, Italian, Portuguese, French, Russian and German.
The new financing tool expanded opportunities for publishing Lithuanian illustrated books abroad
This spring, the Institute also funded a record number of illustrated books by Lithuanian authors. As many as 19 of them will be published in various countries around the world. Such vigorous attention of foreign publishers is the result of the Institute’s Translation Grant Programme that was updated last year, now offering publishers the opportunity not only to apply for funding for the translation of illustrated books but also seek additional support for the acquisition of copyright, as well as illustration, editing and design services.
As a result of allocated funding, illustrated books created by Lithuanian authors will reach not only wider Europe but also such distant countries as Japan, the United Arab Emirates, China, Lebanon, Mexico and Turkey in the near future.
The creators of Lithuanian illustrated books often become the first ambassadors to introduce Lithuania to the world’s little and adult readers. Undoubtedly, some of the most important illustrated books to come out of Lithuania are works by the classic of children’s literature Kęstutis Kasparavičius, available in as many as 27 languages. This time, the Institute provided funding for the translation of four books by Kasparavičius: Gardener Florencijus ( Sodininkas Florencijus) will appear in Estonia, About Animals ( Apie gyvūnus) in Albania, A Striped Story (Dryžuota istorija) in Turkey, and The Bear Family’s World Tour Christmas (Meškelionė) will be published in Slovenia. Also continuing its journey through the languages of the world is the living legend of a book The Fox on the Swing (Laimė yra Lapė) by Evelina Daciūtė and Aušra Kiudulaitė. It will be published in Poland and Northern Macedonia.
Books by Marius Marcinkevičius and Rasa Jančiauskaitė, Tomas Dirgėla and Dalė Karpavičiūtė, also Tomas Dirgėla and Inga Dagilė, Benas Bėrantas and Vilija Kvieskaitė, Julius Keleras and Aistė Papartytė, Kęstutis Navakas and Marija Smirnovaitė, and Mikalojus Vilutis will also reach foreign bookshops and libraries.
Lithuanian writers and illustrators will help the world’s children to understand complex topics of history and the environment
Foreign publishers also expressed interest in non-fiction illustrated books for children that help to establish a conversation on environmental issues and historical memory.
The book The Little Stone (Akmenėlis) by Marius Marcinkevičius and Inga Dagilė, published by the publishing house Tikra knyga last autumn, not only received recognition in Lithuania and at international competitions but also scored high on the foreign publishers’ radar. The Italian publishing house Caissa Italia will publish the first translation of the book. “This is a lucent book that tells about the most shocking event of the twentieth century very simply. It seems to me to be a great way to introduce children to the subject of the Holocaust,” said Yuri Garett, the director of the publishing house, about his decision to publish The Little Stone in Italy, adding that he was greatly impressed by the unique harmony of the story, the plot and the illustrations.
The book The Last White Rhino in the World (Paskutinis pasaulyje baltasis raganosis) by Giedrė Rakauskienė and Dovilė Kubrakovaitė-Bakutė, which deals with the sensitive topic of endangered animals, is to be published in Mexico and Turkey.
A complete list of books funded by the Lithuanian Culture Institute, including the information on their translators and publishers, is available on the Institute’s website: https://english.lithuanianculture.lt/news/2021/05/25/results-of-the-translation-grant-programme-2021-part-i/
The Translation Grant Programme dedicated to the promotion of translations of Lithuanian literature into foreign languages has been implemented in Lithuania since 2001. Since 2010, this activity is implemented by the Lithuanian Culture Institute. During the twenty years since the launch of the programme, 440 translations of books by Lithuanian authors into 36 foreign languages have been funded.