The Goethe-Institut strengthens the dialogue and cooperation of international literary relations and contributes to disseminating German literature abroad. The Literature and Translation Promotion Division sees itself as a consultant and motivator for the Goethe-Instituts abroad as well as sponsors of literature presentation interested in international alliances.
The primary focus of the division’s work is on quality assurance, solidifying and expanding the partner network, coordinating major, cross-border projects as well as preparing and co-organizing book fair appearances at home and aboard. In its work, the division is supported by a committee made up of stakeholders in the book trade and literature.
In its cooperation with diverse literary institutions and book trade establishments in Germany such as the Literature Houses, the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin, the Literaturwerkstatt Berlin, literature archives and museums, the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, the Frankfurt and Leipzig book fairs as well as diverse foundations (Robert Bosch Stiftung, S. Fischer Stiftung, Alfred Toepfer Stiftung, Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung and others) the Goethe-Institut takes an approach owing less to commercial than aesthetic and foreign cultural policy aspects.
The various literature promoting measures and programmes abroad include most importantly invitations to German authors, the organization of book presentations, readings, author and panel discussions, writing and translating workshops, appearances at overseas book fairs and joint activities with the above partners. These include, for example, preparing for German host country appearances at overseas book fairs, holding publisher further trainings or measures to stabilize or develop book market structures.
Parallel to the Leipzig Book Fair, the Literature and Translation Promotion Division also annually holds a one-week further training seminar on contemporary German literature and its presence at the Goethe-Instituts abroad.
A diversified website with theme-related dossiers and interactive pages enables rapid orientation about currents and trends in contemporary German literature.
Translation Grants / Residency Programmes
The Goethe-Institut translation grants programme is the most long-standing and most extensive of its kind in the German language area. Since 1974 translations of over 5,000 books into 45 languages – from children’s books to philosophical treatises – have been supported.
The programme addresses publishing houses abroad, which are responsible for the choice of title and for hiring a suitable translator. Often, informative events held by the Goethe-Instituts abroad provide the decisive stimulus for a translation project. If approved, the Goethe-Institut reimburses the publisher a share of the translation costs following publication of the foreign language edition.
The Goethe-Instituts abroad are the critical interface to the publishers. They receive their applications and decide on subsidies. In this, they consult with a committee that meets four times each year at the head office of the Goethe-Institut.
Each year, the Goethe-Institut receives about 500 applications for translation grants, of which approximately two-thirds can be considered. The programme focuses on current fiction and, increasingly, literature for children and teens. In addition, non-fiction and academic publications play a significant role.
Residency programmes for translators
Under the motto “Translating Books – Building Bridges,” the Goethe-Institut has been offering four working scholarships per year since 2008 for translators of literature from abroad. The programme’s cooperation partners are the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung F.V.S. and the Kulturstiftung des Freistaates Sachsen, which makes its foundation residences at Gut Siggen (Schleswig-Holstein) and in Dresden-Hellerau available for living and working.
Qualified translators who have translated at least two longer works can concentrate on a current translation project from German-language fiction during a four to six-week stay. The scholarship pays €1,500 and includes costs of travel and board. If possible, the stays are enhanced by meetings with the authors or visits to publishers in the region. Applications should be addressed to the division.
Litrix.de – German literature online
Litrix.de is a programme dedicated to making German-language literature more widely known, and encouraging and supporting its translation into other languages. Litrix.de was launched in 2003 by the Federal Foundation for Culture (Kulturstiftung des Bundes) and then, with funding from the Foundation, brought to full fruition during the period 2003-2008 under the auspices of the Goethe Institute. Litrix.de has been a full and integral part of the Goethe Institute’s Literature and Translation-Support Section since the beginning of 2009.
The trilingual website www.litrix.de serves as a global information portal showcasing current German-language books from the realms of fiction, non-fiction, and literature for children and young adults by means of reviews and substantial extracts, both in German and in translation. In addition, the website provides detailed information on the relevant authors and illustrators, and offers users the opportunity to make direct contact with publishers whose books are selected by Litrix.de’s specialist jury for inclusion in its Support Programme.
Litrix.de’s work is focused specifically on promoting its range of current titles, and it addresses itself particularly to publishers, editors, translators and other key figures world-wide who are active in the field of cultural interchange and who make or influence decisions about the translating of German-language books. To this end the website is published not only in German, but also in English as the lingua franca of cultural interchange.
In addition, the website is also published in a third language which changes every three years, and which is determined by the prevailing linguistic focus of the Litrix.de Translation Support Programme – a dedicated programme running in three-year cycles whereby Litrix.de complements its worldwide provision of information by offering financial support for the translation of books it showcases into the prevailing special-focus language. Regions are chosen for special focus on the basis of politico-cultural considerations, and thus far have comprised the following: the Arabic world, China, Brazil, Argentina (Hispanic America) and Russia.
During the period 2015-2018 Litrix.de’s special focus is once again on the Arabic world. This means that as well as providing information through its internet portal and supporting the translation of currently featured books into Arabic, Litrix.de also works closely with the various Goethe Institutes in the Arab countries to put on special events aimed at stimulating interest amongst both professionals and the general public in contemporary German-language literature.