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-organising 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 Haus für Poesie, literary archives and museums, the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, the Frankfurt and Leipzig book fairs as well as various foundations (Robert Bosch Stiftung, S. Fischer Stiftung, Alfred Toepfer Stiftung, Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung and others), the Goethe-Institut takes an approach pursuing less commercial than aesthetic and foreign cultural policy aspects.
The various literature promoting measures and programmes abroad primarily include invitations to German authors, the organisation of book presentations, readings, panel discussions, writing and translating workshops, appearances at overseas book fairs and joint activities with the above partners. In this work, all facets and genres of literature are taken into consideration.
Yet even beyond holding events, the division is committed to helping strengthen local scenes through advanced publisher training courses or other programmes to stabilise 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. An additional further training seminar is held in Berlin to offer an overview of the current literary scene with a special focus on mediating formats.
A diversified website with theme-related dossiers and interactive pages enables rapid orientation about currents and trends in contemporary German literature.
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 in close contact with the publishers. They receive the applications from the publishers and give their opinion on the translation projects. Decisions on grants are made by 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. www.goethe.de/translationgrants
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. www.goethe.de/uebersetzerstipendium
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 initiated in 2003 by the Federal Cultural Foundation (Kulturstiftung des Bundes) under the auspices of the Goethe-Institut and since 2009 has been an integral part of the Goethe-Institut’s Literature and Translation Promotion Division.
The trilingual websitewww.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 particularly addresses publishers, editors, translators and other key figures worldwide who are active in the field of cultural dialogue and who make or influence decisions about the translation 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 dialogue. The selected books are additionally presented in a third language based on the respective focus of the Litrix translation-funding programme.
Tailored to its worldwide programme of information, Litrix.de also offers its own funding programme, which supports the translation of each of the presented books in a specific language for several years. These funding programmes are determined according to cultural policy aspects and thus far were aimed at the Arabic world, China, Brazil, Argentina (Hispanic America), Russia and once again the Arab world.
In 2019 and 2020, translations into Greek are the focus of Litrix.de's promotional efforts, i.e. since the start of 2019, the website has been published in German, English and Greek, and the translation grant program for titles currently being supported is aimed at publishers in Greece and Cyprus. Furthermore, related events are being organized in close cooperation with the Goethe-Instituts in Greece and Cyprus to actively bring contemporary German-language literature into dialogue with the local residents.