Founded in 2003, Words Without Borders fosters cultural understanding through the translation, publication, and promotion of the finest contemporary international literature. Our publications and programs open doors for readers of English around the world to the multiplicity of viewpoints, richness of experience, and literary perspective on world events offered by writers in other languages. We seek to connect international writers to the general public, to students and educators, and to print and other media and to serve as a primary online location for a global literary conversation. 

Words Without Borders is pleased to announce the first annual Momentum Grant for Early-Career Translators to support early-career translators seeking to bring international work into the English-language marketplace.

The grant is intended to facilitate the completion of a substantial sample of a book-length work of prose translation suitable for submission to English-language publishers, and will be awarded to an individual translator who has not yet received a book-length contract for translation work. We particularly welcome submissions from translators from historically underrepresented cultures and backgrounds. 

Submissions will be judged by translator Anton Hur and the editors of Words Without Borders. An excerpt of the winning sample translation will be published in Words Without Borders, and the recipient will receive $3,000, funded by the Malecha Family Trust.

Translators who have not published or received a contract for a book-length translation are eligible. Submitted projects may be from any original language but must not have already appeared in English translation. Though contemporary English is the target language, the emerging translator need not live in the United States.

Application materials

  • a 500-word project description
  • a 2,500-word translation sample and the corresponding section of the original text
  • author bio
  • translator bio
  • a personal statement on the applicant’s trajectory as a translator and professional goals, not to exceed 300 words
  • copyright information for the original text and confirmation from the copyright holder that English-language rights to the book are available (unless the work is in the public domain)

Submissions will be accepted through 11:59 PM EST on February 17, 2023. We regret that, due to the high number of submissions we receive, only the winner will be contacted. The winner will be announced in June 2023


Who is eligible? Translators who have not published a book-length translation, and who are not under contract for a book-length translation, in any genre and in any part of the world, are eligible. 

Who qualifies as “underrepresented”? Translators who identify as Black, Indigenous, people of color, disabled, LGBTQIA; non-native English speakers translating into English; translators who do not hold MAs or MFAs or have had some equivalent type of training. Translators working from Indigenous, endangered, and other often-marginalized languages are especially encouraged to apply. Applicants may address their eligibility in their personal statements if desired.

What genres are eligible? Literary fiction and nonfiction for a trade audience are eligible. We are not accepting graphic or poetry projects at this time.

What original languages are eligible? Original texts may be in any language.

Are retranslations eligible? Retranslations are not eligible.

May translators submit multiple projects? Translators are limited to one submission.

May projects have multiple translators? Projects may have up to two translators.

Must translators secure rights? No, but they must confirm that English-language rights are available.

When will the grant be awarded? The grant will be awarded upon announcement of the winner.

What will be required of the grant recipient? The recipient will be expected to complete the proposed sample translation (intended for submission to publishers) within one year. Upon completion the recipient will deliver the full sample translation and a brief report on the effect of the grant to Words Without Borders.

Words Without Borders