“Programa SUR” for translation support: A new direction for Argentine thought and literature
In 2009, the “Organising Committee for the Participation of Argentina as Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2010” (COFRA), at the Argentine Foreign Office, launched Programme SUR (PROSUR) as one of its key initiatives. The intent was to promote Argentine literature and thought worldwide by means of grants awarded for the translation of works by Argentinian writers into all the languages requested.
Concluded the programme's originary phase, it can be said that this proposal has become an unprecedented success for the policy promoting Argentine culture abroad, not only for its promising effect on the superb international stage provided by this fair, but for the happy coincidence provided by the Bicentennial celebrations of the Argentine Republic in 2010 as well.
The original plan consisting in 20 grants was quickly raised to 100. In less than eight months, applications submitted had already exceeded that figure, for which COFRA President Ambassador Magdalena Faillace requested and obtained from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the possibility to extend the programme with 50 further grants. As these new grants were also rapidly covered, the Minister again extended the programme to the amount equivalent to 75 new grants. In the ambit of the Buenos Aires Book Fair, Ambassador Magdalena Faillace, President of COFRA, announced the continuity of PROSUR as a permanent State policy. This first stage of the programme ended April 30 and for over twenty days different presentations arrived by post. In order to contemplate all of these presentations Foreign Office officials increased the PROSUR budget. Thus, Programme SUR finally approved 291 works to be translated to a considerable number of languages and with an approximate budget of USD 800.000.
The development of the programme has been enhanced by the presence of distinguished personalities from the literary, cultural and publishing industry integrating the “Translations Committee” entrusted with assessing the applications. In addition to former COFRA President and current Director of Cultural Affairs Ambassador Magdalena Faillace, Horacio González (sociologist and Director of the National Library), Noé Jitrik (literary critic and writer), Mario Goloboff (academic and writer), Carlos Pazos (member of “Fundación El Libro”), and Silvia Hopenhayn (journalist specialising in literature). This Committee is responsible for assessing grant applications, recommending acceptance of those it believes most deserving, and deciding the amount of each grant to a maximum sum equivalent to USD 3200.
On the other hand, the diversity of countries interested, languages involved, ages, styles and origins of the authors requested and of the translated work genres have reaffirmed the extensive repercussion of this initiative.
The 400 translation applications approved include 253 Argentine authors -121 of whom are included in various anthologies (of Argentine young-adult literature texts, contemporary poetry, Mercosur writers, new Argentine short stories, Argentine women writers and of essential texts accounting for the wealth of two centuries of Argentine literature and writers residing in Canada) and in an edition of academic articles.
These 400 works will be published in 39 countries (Germany 60 titles, Italy 33, France 22, Brazil 19, USA 19, United Kingdom 14, Israel 14, Switzerland 12, Netherlands 10, Bulgaria 9, Russian Federation 7, Austria 7, Czech Republic 6, Romania 6, Portugal 6, Egypt 5, Greece 5, Poland 5, Canada 4, Ukraine 4, Vietnam 3, Thailand 2, Malaysia 2, Hungary 2, Georgia 2, Turkey 2, Croatia 2, Serbia 2, Japan 1, Belgium 1, Slovenia 1, Norway 1, Sweden 1, South Korea 1, Armenia 1, Peoples Republic of China-Taipei- and Macedonia 1), and in 34 languages (77 titles to German, 37 to English, 33 to Italian, 24 to Portuguese, 23 to French, 14 to Hebrew, 10 to Netherlander, 9 to Bulgarian, 7 to Russian, 6 to Czech, 6 to Rumanian, 5 to Greek, 5 to Arabic, 5 to Polish, 4 to Ukrainian, 3 to Vietnamese, 2 to Croatian, 2 to Georgian, 2 to Hungarian, 2 to Malay, 2 to Serbian, 2 to Thai, 2 to Turkish and 1 to Armenian, Slavic, Korean, Slovenian, Japanese, Macedonia, Mandarin, Norwegian and Swedish, among others).
Undoubtedly, the enormous collaboration provided by the Argentine publishing Chambers and, in particular, by the Diplomatic and Consular Representations of Argentina abroad, publicising the call made by Programme SUR, have been decisive in accounting for the remarkable geographical and cultural diversity of these responses.
The works approved (a few titles are being translated to a number of languages) include 162 novels, 25 poetry works, 23 short story books, 7 anthologies (some by various authors, as mentioned, and others by specific authors), 7 playwriting works (containing 20 plays), 7 comic books, 7 historical-political essays, 6 essays, 5 children-juvenile novels, 5 children literature works, 3 autobiographies (testimonials and diaries), 3 of chronicles, 3 of literary criticism, 3 of fantastic literature, 3 non-fiction novels, 3 short stories, 2 of travelogues, 2 of general interest, 2 of investigative reporting, 1 on cookery, 1 economics essay, 1 of prose poetry, 1 unpublished texts compilation, 1 of conferences, 1 of journalistic research, 1 of memoirs, 1 essay on economics, 1 nouvelle, 1 testimonial story, 1 narrative for children and teens and children testimonials, and 1 of short short stories, 1 of complete narrative as well as 1 poetry anthology and of short stories.
On the other hand, the multiplying effect of Programme SUR must also be counted, since several literary agents have reported sales for over 200 titles by Argentine authors to be published in different countries around the world since Argentina was appointed as Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2010.
Though there are several 19th and 20th century classics, the vast majority of the authors are alive (182 over 237). Moreover, most of the writers are from the city of Buenos Aires (132), followed by the province of Buenos Aires (40). Following these, Santa Fe (18, 10 of whom are from Rosario), Córdoba (9 writers), Entre Ríos (8), Mendoza (4), Río Negro (3), Chaco (3), San Juan (2), Tucumán (3), Jujuy (1), San Luis (1), Chubut (1), San Luis (1), La Pampa (1), Salta (1), Santiago del Estero (1) and Neuquén (1).
Another important point is that several of these writers reside or have resided, abroad. Similarly, several writers born in the provinces have later come to live in Buenos Aires.
It is also worth mentioning that about half the writers can be considered young writers or from an intermediate generation.
Significantly, 31 of these writers have suffered exile (Esteban Echeverría, José Mármol, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, Aurora Venturini, Antonio Di Benedetto, Juan Gelman, Martín Caparrós, Horacio Salas, Vicente Battista, Héctor Tizón, Tomás Eloy Martínez, Osvaldo Bayer, Manuel Puig, Ana María Shua, Luisa Valenzuela, Eduardo Pavlosvsky, Reina Roffe, Pedro Orgambide, Sara Rosemberg, Tununa Mercado, Mempo Giardinelli, María del Carmen Sillato, Pablo Urbanyi, Juan Salinas, Osvaldo Soriano, Lázaro Covadlo, Eduardo Sguiglia, Griselda Gambaro and José María Aricó) while one of them, Rodolfo Walsh, disappeared during the military dictatorship.
The writers most translated –a few of them with one work to various languages, others with several works to different languages- are the following:
Jorge Luis BORGES (14 grants to be published abroad: El Aleph to Malay, Obra poética I & II –a selection- into Ukrainian; El otro, el mismo; Historia de la eternidad; Atlas and Siete noches / Oral into Portuguese –Brazil-; Ficciones to Bulgarian; On Mysticism; Poems of the Night; Borges on Argentina; On Writing and The Sonnets into English (the Penguin Group will make a selection of texts for each one of these works);
Julio CORTÁZAR (7 grants to be published abroad: Salvo al crepúsculo into French; Rayuela into Georgian; Poesías to Bulgarian; Diario de Andrés Fava into Italian; Antología de relatos to Georgian; Papeles inesperados to Rumanian and Cuentos to Armenian);
Adolfo BIOY CASARES (6 grants to be published abroad: Los que aman, odian –with Silvina Ocampo- to German; El sueño de los héroes; Diario de la guerra del cerdo and Cuentos cortos into Bulgarian; Diario de la guerra del cerdo to Portuguese; La invención de Moreto Norwegian); Cesar AIRA (6 works: Las noches de Flores to German and Greek; Los fantasmas to Arabic and German; Un episodio en la vida del pintor viajero to Hungarian and Cómo me hice monja to Arabic);
Ricardo PIGLIA (6 grants to be published abroad: La ciudad ausente to French; Plata quemada to French and Russian; Blanco nocturno and a selection of short stories from La invasión, Nombre falso and Prisión perpetua to German; El último lector to German);
Rodolfo WALSH (6 grants to be published abroad: Operación Masacre into French, German and Portuguese; Cuentos literarios completos to Portuguese and Cuentos policiales to German and Cuentos literarios to German);
Pablo DE SANTIS (6 grants to be published abroad: El enigma de París to Bulgarian, Russian, Mandarin and German; El último espía to Italian and La sexta lámpara to Russian);
Claudia PIÑEIRO (6 grants to be published abroad: Las viudas de los jueves to English, Hebrew, Serb and German; Elena sabe to Netherlander and German);
Alan PAULS (5 grants to be published abroad: El pasado to Greek, Russian and Portuguese; Historia del llanto to German; Historia del pelo to French);
Ariel MAGNUS (5 grants to be published abroad: Un chino en bicicleta to Rumanian, German, Hebrew, Italian and Croatian).
María Rosa LOJO (5 grants to be published abroad: Finisterre to Thai; La Princesa Federaland Las libres del Sur to Italian; Amores insólitos de nuestra historia to French; La pasión de los nómades to English);
Sergio BIZZIO (4 grants to be published abroad: Realidad to Bulgarian and Italian; Rabia to German and Netherlander);
Liliana BODOC (4 grants to be published abroad: El espejo africano to French; La saga de los confines -Los días del Venado (Libro I); La saga de los confines -Los días de la Sombra (Libro II) and La saga de los confines -Los días del Fuego (Libro III) to Netherlander);
Mempo GIARDINELLI (4 grants to be published abroad: El cielo con las manos to Czech; Imposible equilibrio to English; Estación Coghlan y otros cuentos to Italian and Santo Oficio de la Memoria to French);
LINIERS –Ricardo Siri- (4 grants to be published abroad: Macanudo Vol. 1 to Czech; Bonjour to Portuguese; Macanudo Vol. 2 y 3 to Italian);
Guillermo MARTÍNEZ (4 grants to be published abroad: La muerte lenta de Luciana B. to Bulgarian and Hebrew; Acerca de Roderer to Netherlander and Macedonia) and
Rafael SPREGELBURD (4 grants to be published abroad: Heptalogía de Hieronymus Bosch to Italian in two volumes, to Czech and Slavic and La paranoia to French);
Of these 291 subsidised works there are several landmark works of Argentine literature: El Matadero and La cautiva by Esteban Echeverría; Facundo o civilización y barbarie en las pampas argentinas by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento; Antología poética y de cuentos by Leopoldo Lugones; Oasis en la vida by Juana Manuela Gorriti; Los gauchos judíos by Alberto Gerchunoff; Los siete locos and Aguafuertes porteñas by Roberto Arlt; Antología de cuentos by Horacio Quiroga; Adán Buenosayres by Leopoldo Marechal; El Aleph y Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges; Museo de la novela de la Eterna by Macedonio Fernández; Diario de la guerra del cerdo and La invención de Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares; Los que aman, odian by Bioy Casares and Silvina Ocampo; Poemas by Alfonsina Storni and by Alejandra Pizarnik; Autobiografía/Testimonios by Victoria Ocampo; Operación Masacre and Cuentos completos by Rodolfo Walsh; Rayuela, Cuentos y Poemas by Julio Cortázar; La Patagonia rebelde by Osvaldo Bayer; Boquitas pintadas by Manuel Puig; Zama by Antonio Di Benedetto; La grande and El entenado by Juan José Saer and El túnel de Ernesto Sábato.