The Lithuanian Culture Institute has allocated almost 70 thousand euros for new translations of Lithuanian literature into foreign languages. As many as 24 new books by Lithuanian writers, poets and illustrators will reach readers in Ukraine, Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, Greece, Iceland and other countries. The translation of Lithuanian literature into Icelandic is being funded for the first time. Adults and children will be able to read work by Romualdas Granauskas, Dalia Grinkevičiūtė, Kristina Sabaliauskaitė, Alvydas Šlepikas, Kęstutis Kasparavičius, Kotryna Zylė and other Lithuanian authors in their mother tongue (the full list of translations that have been granted funding is available here: https://english.lithuanianculture.lt/news/2022/06/10/results-of-the-translation-grant-programme-2022-part-i/). As has become usual, the same amount of translations are planned to be funded during the Translation Grant Programme application cycle in the autumn this year.
New translations the result of sustainable partnerships
“Each translated book is the result of the Institute’s long-term partnerships with authors, literary translators and foreign publishers. Neither the ranging pandemic nor war could discontinue them. This year we are happy not only with the wide range of European translations but also with the fact that Ukrainian publishing houses have found ways and determination to continue their work,” says Aušrinė Žilinskienė, Director of the Lithuanian Culture Institute.
“So far, Ukrainian publishing houses have been very active – each year, we funded 5-9 translations of books by Lithuanian authors into Ukrainian. Since 2016, both modern classics of Lithuanian literature and contemporary authors, as well as non-fiction and memoirs, have been actively published in Ukraine,” comments Kotryna Pranckūnaitė, Head of the Translation Grant Programme.
Dnipro-based publishing house Gerda published Dalia Staponkutė’s book The Third Country. My Little Odyssey (original title Iš dviejų renkuosi trečią. Mano mažoji odisėja) last year and is preparing the translation of Gabija Grušaitė’s novel Cold East (original title Stasys Šaltoka: Vieneri metai). The publisher’s editor, Misheal D. Kyslov, says that he had planned to publish this novel before the war. At the time, it seemed to him like a universal narrative written in the language of current youth on topics relevant to young people. Now he hopes that the main protagonist Stasys Šaltoka will help his country’s youth to endure the war.
“By coincidence, the main characters in the book, three young men from different countries and cultures, are the same age as the men currently fighting on our front line. I hope that this light-in-style book full of adventures and events will brighten up their moments of respite, just like a good song. I think the novel will also be of interest to those who have been forced to flee. The main character Stasys Šaltoka, being an emigrant himself, will offer them advice on how to deal with nostalgia and survive in a strange and not always pleasant world,” shares M. Kyslov.
Europe shows interest in the history of Lithuania and its complicated neighbourship
Fiction and non-fiction dealing with the themes of World War II and the post-war period were again at the centre of the foreign publishers’ attention. Dalia Grinkevičiūtė’s memoir Lithuanians by the Laptev Sea will be translated into Icelandic and Greek, and Alvydas Šlepikas’ novel In the Shadow of Wolves (original title Mano vardas – Marytė ) will appear in Albanian and Macedonian. Both these books are some of the most translated Lithuanian works of literature – the Lithuanian Culture Institute has previously funded ten translations each of Grinkevičiūtė’s recollections of deportation and Šlepikas’ novel about ‘wolf children’ into various foreign languages.
The final part of Kristina Sabaliauskaitė’s tetralogy, Silva Rerum, will be translated in Poland, and the second volume of another novel by this author, Peter’s Empress, will be published in the Netherlands, where it has gained a large readership. This two-part historical novel, made even more relevant by the Russian war on Ukraine, has already been translated into Estonian and Latvian with the help of the Translation Grant Programme, while the first volume is being translated into French and, as previously mentioned, is already available in Dutch.
Foreign publishers also expressed interest in contemporary and classic Lithuanian literature: the book of short stories by Vidas Morkūnas Stations of the Fellow Travellers (original title Pakeleivingų stotys) will be translated into Latvian; the autobiographical novelette Third Life (original title Trečias gyvenimas) by Romualdas Granauskas will be published in German; one of the most prominent pieces of Lithuanian literature, the short story The Daughter-in-law (original title Marti) by Žemaitė will appear in Greek. Italian readers will be able to enjoy a large collection of poetry by Tomas Venclova.
Polish publishers intend to bring their readers closer to Lithuanian non-fiction. The anthology of philosophical writing Between the Worlds (original title Tarp pasaulių) will acquaint Polish readers with selected texts by Pranas Dovydaitis, Juozas Girnius, Vosylis Sezeman, Izidorius Tamošaitis, Vydūnas and other thinkers connected to Vytautas Magnus University. Next year, Polish readers will be able to read Tomas Venclova’s two-volume History of Lithuania for All (original title Lietuvos istorija visiems). This publication will also be available in an e-format.
Illustrated books: adventures fantastic and real
Historical topics were also popular in children’s literature selected for translation. Book for children about the Holocaust, The Little Stone (original title Akmenėlis) by Marius Marcinkevičius and illustrator Inga Dagilė continues its journey around Europe – this time, it will be translated into Slovenian. With the Institute’s support, this book, which has received international and national acclaim, has already been translated into Italian and Latvian.
Books by Lithuanian authors that have won awards for creativity, illustrations and book art solutions will also see the light of day in translation. In the autumn this year, the bestseller Christmas! Christmas! (original title Kalėdos, Kalėdos!) by Kęstutis Kasparavičius, the author treasured by many children around the world, will appear in Slovenian, while his latest book, The Star Bird (original title Žvaigždžių paukštis), hot off the press in Lithuania, will soon be read in Albanian. Books by Kasparavičius receive the attention of foreign publishers every year – so far, the Institute has funded the translation of as many as 21 books by this author.
Children and teenagers from neighbouring Latvia will be able to enjoy being frightened while reading Kotryna Zylė’s Soul in a Sandwich Box (original title Siela sumuštinių dėžutėje). Latvian translations of Tomas Dirgėla and illustrator Greta Alice’s The Cursed Book of Mr Cook (original title Užkeiktoji pono Kuko knyga), Lina Žutautė’s Ferdinand and Pu (original title Ferdinandas ir Pū), and Benas Bertantas and illustrator Vilija Kvieskaitė’s book Bamboo is Slooow (original title Bambukas yra lėėėtas) are also in the pipeline.
The book Emil’s Letter (original title Emilio laiškas) by Ignė Zarembaitė and Greta Alice will be published in Estonia in autumn this year. Literary works by Lithuanian authors will also delight Georgian children as Birutė Mar’s book The Florist (original title Gėlininkė) illustrated by Kristina Norvilaitė and the first book in Vytautas V. Landsbergis’ series about the white wild horse Dominykas, Dominic the Horse in Love (original title Arklio Dominyko meilė) with illustrations by Gediminas Pranckevičius will soon be accessible in their mother tongue. Meanwhile, Princess (original title Princesė) by Marius Marcinkevičius and Vaiva Braškutė, which breaks the age-old stereotypes of princesses, knights and dragons, will arrive in Armenia.