The PEN/Heim Translation Fund was established in the summer of 2003 by an endowed gift of $730,000 from Priscilla and Michael Henry Heim, in response to the dismayingly low number of literary translations currently appearing in English. Its purpose is to promote the publication and reception of translated international literature in English.
Since 2009, the Fund’s annual contribution for grant awards has been augmented by support from Amazon. Thanks to the generosity of Michael Heim’s endowment and Amazon, PEN has awarded grants to 89 winning projects from 2009 through 2015. The Fund has been uniquely successful in finding publishers for major international works, encouraging younger translators to enter the field, and introducing English-speaking readers to new and exciting voices. All other criteria being equal, preference is given to translators at the beginning of their career, and to works by underrepresented writers working in underrepresented languages.
Over the twelve years of its existence, the Fund has given grants of $2,000–$4,000 to a total of 139 translations from over 35 languages, including Armenian, Basque, Estonian, Farsi, Finland-Swedish, Lithuanian and Mongolian, as well as French, Spanish, German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic.