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American Literary Translators Association

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American Literary Translators Association

The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) bridges cultural communication and understanding among countries and languages through the art and craft of literary translation. The only organization in the United States dedicated solely to literary translation, ALTA promotes literary translation through its annual conference, which draws hundreds of translators and literary professionals from around the world; the National Translation Award, an annual $5,000 prize for the best book-length translation into English of a work of fiction, poetry, or literary non-fiction; the Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize, which awards $5,000 each year for the best book-length translation of an Asian work into English; and the ALTA Travel Fellowships, which are $1,000 prizes awarded annually to 4-6 emerging translators for travel to the annual conference.


The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) was co-founded by Rainer Schulte and A. Leslie Willson in 1978 at The University of Texas at Dallas.[1] ALTA's own scholarly journal, Translation Review, was also founded in 1978 and has been published regularly ever since. The ALTA Annual Conference has convened every year since 1978 in various locations throughout North America. From 1978 until 2014, ALTA was administratively housed at the University of Texas at Dallas. In late 2013, in advance of the upcoming planned split with UT-Dallas, the ALTA board announced long-term plans to develop ALTA into an independent, non-profit arts organization. As of 2014, ALTA is transitioning from its long-time home at UT-Dallas toward a long-term future as a fully self-sustaining organization.

Annual Conference

The annual ALTA conference is a four-day gathering of professional literary translators, translation students and scholars, publishers of literature in translation, and others interested in the study, practice, and promotion of literary translation. Conference events include: panel presentations on a wide range of topics related to literary translation; roundtable discussions of issues relevant to literary translators, scholars, and publishers; bilingual readings of recently published translations or translations in progress; and interactive workshops on translating specific texts. In addition, each conference features keynote presentations by invited speakers; readings by the ALTA Fellows; a book exhibit of recently published literature in translation; announcements of the National Translation Award and the Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize; a multilingual performance of poetry recitation known as Declamación; special events such as film screenings or play stagings; and abundant opportunities for connections among translators, students, scholars, and publishers dedicated to fostering literary translation. In recent years, ALTA conference organizers have selected a conference theme to guide panel, workshop, and roundtable proposals in the direction of a broadly defined aspect of literary translation studies. Themes may address geographies, genres, literary elements, or other angles for approaching literary translation theory and practice.[2]

Upcoming Conference

Recent Conferences


National Translation Award

The National Translation Award (NTA) is awarded annually for the book-length translation of fiction, poetry, drama, or creative non-fiction that, in the estimation of the panel of judges, represents the most valuable contribution to the field of literary translation made during the previous year. The original work may have been written in any language, but in order to be eligible for the NTA, the translation must be into English, the translator must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident, and the book must have been published during the preceding calendar year. The prize awarded annually to the winning translator is worth $5,000. In addition to honoring individual translators for their work, the NTA celebrates the craft of literary translation and strives to increase its visibility and broaden its market. The winner is announced each year at the ALTA Annual Conference.[4]

Recent Winners

For a more complete list of past winners, see the main National Translation Award page.

Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize

In 2009, ALTA announced a new $5,000 translation award named in honor of Lucien Stryk (1924-2013), acclaimed Zen poet and translator of Japanese and Chinese Zen poetry. The Lucien Stryk Prize is awarded annually to the translator of a book-length translation of Asian poetry or source texts from Zen Buddhism. Eligible translations may be from Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Sanskrit, Tamil, Thai, or Vietnamese into English. The Lucien Stryk Prize is intended for translations of contemporary works, but retranslations or first-time translations of older works may also be considered. The inaugural Lucien Stryk Prize was awarded in 2010. The winner is announced each year at the ALTA Annual Conference.[6]

Recent Winners

  • 2014: Jonathan Chaves for Every Rock a Universe: The Yellow Mountains and Chinese Travel Writing including A Record of Comprehending the Essentials of the Yellow Mountains by Wang Hongdu, translated from the Chinese[7]
  • 2013: Lucas Klein for Notes on the Mosquito by Chuan Xi, translated from the Chinese
  • 2012: Don Mee Choi for All the Garbage of the World, Unite! by Kim Hyesoon, translated from the Korean
  • 2011: Charles Egan for Clouds Thick, Whereabouts Unknown: Poems by Zen Monks of China, translated from the Chinese
  • 2010: Red Pine (Bill Porter) for In Such Hard Times: The Poetry of Wei Ying-wu by Wei Ying-wu, translated from the Chinese

ALTA Travel Fellowships

ALTA Travel Fellowships are awards of $1,000 each that are designed to help early-career translators cover the travel and lodging expenses associated with attending the ALTA Annual Conference. Each year, four to six winners are selected through a competitive application process, and ALTA Fellows give a public reading of their work at the conference.[8] ALTA Fellows are typically first-time ALTA conference attendees and, although they may have a few published translations, they must be relatively early in their translation careers.

Recent Winners

  • 2014: Megan Berkobien (Catalan), Tenzin Dickie (Tibetan), Alice Guthrie (Arabic), Sara Nović (Bosnian), Christopher Tamigi (Italian), and Annie Tucker (Bahasa Indonesia)[9]
  • 2013: Andrew Barrett, Meghan Flaherty, Adam Z. Levy, Matthew Lundin, and Emma Ramadan[10]
  • 2012: Alexandra Berlina, Joshua Daniel Edwin, Janet Ha, Hai-Dang Phan, and Claire Van Winkle[11]
  • 2011: Nora Delaney, Tara FitzGerald, Yardenne Greenspan, and Nikki Settelmeyer[12]
  • 2010: Dustin Lovett, Lucas Millheim, Juliana Nalerio, Thomas Pruiksma, and Yoshihisa Tomonaga[13]
  • 2009: Meg Arenberg, Oksana Jackim, Robin Myers, and Rabbi Jeremy Schwartz[14]
  • 2008: Peter Bull, Peter Golub, Jordan Pleasant, and Andrea Rosenberg[15]


Translation Review

Translation Review, founded in 1978, is a twice-yearly print publication that highlights the theoretical, critical, and practical aspects surrounding the study, craft, and teaching of literary translation. Each issue of Translation Review may include interviews with translators, essays on the theory and practice of translation, articles on teaching literary works in translation and/or literary translation practice at colleges and universities, profiles of publishers and reports on emerging trends in the publishing of literary translations, and reviews of translations that focus specifically on translation-related aspects.[16]

ALTA Guides to Literary Translation

The ALTA Guides to Literary Translation are brochures offering practical information, professional advice, and useful resources for literary translators at various points in their careers. As of 2014, there are five ALTA Guides to Literary Translation, each available as a PDF downloadable from the (archived) ALTA website:[17]

  • The Making of a Literary Translator introduces new and unpublished translators to the basics of translation and provides tips for developing translation skills.
  • Breaking into Print guides translators through the process of selecting a text and an appropriate publication venue and discusses obstacles particular to publishing literary translations.
  • The Proposal for a Book-Length Translation is an aid for navigating the proposal process, from initial query through to publication, with special information about how to research and/or obtain English-language publication rights.
  • Promoting Your Literary Translation offers tools for promoting and marketing a published translation.
  • The Literary Translator and the Internet is a basic guide to help literary translators make the most of the various modes and resources of the internet to in order to share and promote their craft.

Annotated Books Received

Annotated Books Received (ABR) was a periodic list of recently published translations including notes on each of over 100 books, as well as an index of translators and publishers. Having been published once- or twice-yearly from 1995 through 2011,[18] ABR is currently inactive.

ALTA Newsletter

The ALTA Newsletter provides ALTA members with information about upcoming conferences, grants, prizes, calls for papers, member news, and other items of interest.

See also

External links

  • ALTA Landing/Redirect Page (main website in transition as of Sept 2014)
  • ALTA 2014 Conference Website


  1. ^ "ALTA: About ALTA". 
  2. ^ "ALTA: General Conference Information". 
  3. ^ "ALTA 2014 Conference". 
  4. ^ "ALTA: National Translation Award". 
  5. ^ "NTA Winner: An Invitation For Me to Think by Alexander Vvedensky, translated from the Russian by Eugene Ostashevsky & Matvei Yankelevich". 
  6. ^ "ALTA: Lucien Stryk Prize". 
  7. ^ "Stryk Prize Awarded to Jonathan Chaves". 
  8. ^ "ALTA: Travel Fellowships". 
  9. ^ Mena, Erica (26 September 2014). "Press Release: —The American Literary Translators Association is pleased to announce the six 2014 ALTA Travel Fellows". American Literary Translators Association. Retrieved 26 September 2014. 
  10. ^ Introducing the 2013 Travel Fellowship Award Winners (Brochure included in 2013 conference materials). American Literary Translators Association. 2013. 
  11. ^ "ALTA: 2012 ALTA Fellows". 
  12. ^ "ALTA: 2011 ALTA Fellows". 
  13. ^ "ALTA: 2010 ALTA Fellows". 
  14. ^ "ALTA: 2009 ALTA Fellows". 
  15. ^ "ALTA: 2008 ALTA Fellows". 
  16. ^ "ALTA: Translation Review". 
  17. ^ "ALTA Guides to Literary Translation". 
  18. ^ "ALTA: Annotated Books Received". 
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