The Spanish Riveter: Grants, Grants, Grants: Translating and Promoting Spain’s Literature in English by Alice Banks

Publishing literature in translation is notoriously expensive, and many publishers shy away from it due to the sheer cost it entails. Funding, then, is essential to increase the number of translated Spanish books that make their way into English readers’ hands. When we consider that independent publishing makes up a large part of the sector bringing foreign literature into English, this funding becomes even more important.

It’s great news then, that many of Spain’s cultural institutions are providing extensive grants for translation costs. For example, in the lead up to Spain’s appearance as Guest of Honour at Frankfurt Book Fair last year, Acción Cultural Española (AC/E) really upped their grant game. Since the Guest of Honour announcement, they have put out five calls for translation grants (all spanning long time periods) that cover the cost of translation, and their fifth grant call is still open until October 2023. The AC/E grant application consists of an accessible and extremely straightforward online form, making for a relatively quick process when compared to other applications. This is great news for publishers who have nightmares about tome-like grant applications that seem to ask for everything but the kitchen sink. Another very important point is that AC/E allows publishers to apply for grants to translate literature from any of Spain’s official languages: Castilian, Catalan, Basque and Galician.

However, what happens when the translation has been completed, edited and printed, and the publisher has to ensure that their book reaches the widest audience possible? It’s easy to forget that promoting a book is not free, and the costs of doing so can mount up rapidly: sending out advance review copies; organising events, with speakers’ fees, and travel and accommodation to fork out for. It’s fantastic news then, that AC/E also offers grants for printing, distribution, and promotion costs, all easily applied for within the same application for the translation grant, making for a streamlined application that covers all bases.

The Institut Ramon Llull also offers a comprehensive programme to aid both the translation and promotion of works from the Catalan language, and there are normally two long-term, open-call windows each year for each

grant. Unlike the AC/E programme, the grant for translation costs and the grant for promotion costs must be applied for through two separate applications. This makes for a slightly longer application process, but it is nothing too onerous. The grant for the promotion of literature in translation is wide-ranging, covering everything from speakers’ fees and venue hire, to flights and accommodation for authors and translators, and graphic design and advertising fees. While the application process can be long, it is the perfect example of how a cultural institution can go one step further in helping publishers who are working with translations. The Institut Ramon Llull clearly understands that it’s one thing to get the book out there, it’s another to get people hearing about it and reading it.

The Etxepare Euskal Institutua also opens a yearly, month-long call for applications for translation grants for literary works published originally in Basque, or from Basque authors writing in Castilian. Importantly, these grants also cover both the publishing and promotion costs for the book, another example of a cultural institute that understands that what happens after a book is published is just as important as bringing it into existence.

The Xunta de Galicia too opens a grant call for support for translations from Galician, and in the past, have also opened a separate grant window for support in publishing, marketing and distributing the book. While the grant can only be applied for by a publishing house, there is good news for translators too, as often, the Xunta also funds one translation residency per year, which funds a month-long stay in Galicia for a translator currently working on a translation from Galician.

While it is fantastic that grants for translations and the promotion of translations from Castilian, Catalan, Basque and Galician are covered (in three of these cases, twice over), still missing are grants for languages such as Asturian and Aragonese. These are two languages spoken on the peninsula that are not considered ‘official’ languages by the Spanish state, and therefore not covered under AC/E’s terms and conditions. Hopefully, in the future, we will see these languages, which are both considered endangered, better represented and supported by national cultural institutions so we can get an even more well-rounded view of the literature coming out of Spain. 

If you are a publisher interested in translating a book from one of Spain’s official languages, there’s plenty of financial help out there for you, but if you’re not sure where to start in terms of what to publish, there are many fantastic extracts in this magazine of works yet to be published in English, and an even more extensive list (along with samples and/or reader’s reports) on 

Alice Banks

Read The Spanish Riveter here or order your paper copy from here.

Buy books from The Spanish Riveter through the European Literature Network’s The Spanish Riveter page.

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