AMHERST, Massachusetts. – The Yiddish Book Center has received the 2020 London Book Fair’s International Excellence Award for Literary Translation Initiative.
The Award recognizes the Yiddish Book Center’s ongoing efforts to raise the profile of literature in translation, to train and mentor a new generation of Yiddish translators, and to bring previously un-translated titles to English readers. The organization’s latest programs include an international book club and “Coming to America” reading groups for public libraries, in which participants use Yiddish works in translation to explore questions of identity, assimilation, language, culture, and generational change.
The judges called the Yiddish Book Center “a unique organization that involves the public, publishers, libraries, and upcoming generations of translators in a broad and imaginative program to preserve the past and safeguard the future of this language and its culture.”
The Yiddish Book Center’s Translation Fellowship program has trained more than 60 translators over the past eight years. Some have gone on to receive honors of their own, including grants from PEN/Heim and the National Endowment for the Arts. To date, they have published twelve book-length works, with many more to follow.
Additionally, the Center helps Yiddish translators to publish their works through Pakn Treger, an English-language magazine; an annual Pakn Treger Digital Translation Issue; its website, yiddishbookcenter.org; a ten-year series called the New Yiddish Library; and, most recently, its own imprint, White Goat Press.
“The tens of thousands of novels, plays, memoirs, short stories, poetry, and other titles written in Yiddish over the past 150 years tell a rich and complex story of Jewish life in the modern world, and making these works accessible to English readers has become one of our highest priorities,” said Aaron Lansky, the founder and president of the Yiddish Book Center. “We’re thrilled to accept this award as a recognition of the Yiddish Book Center and, more importantly, of Yiddish literature itself.”