Writing Program Alumna, Student Awarded 2016 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants

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School of the Arts almuna Alicia Maria Meier ’15 and current student Amanda Lee Koe have been awarded 2016 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants.

Meier was awarded the grant for her translation from the Catalan of The Sky According to Google (El cel segons Google) by Marta Carnicero. An alumna of the Writing Program and the joint course of study Literary Translation at Columbia, Meier first began working with Carnicero when both were participants in Word for Word, the Program’s literary translation exchange. Over the course of the academic year 2014-2015, the pair collaborated on translations of one another’s work, meeting both at the School of the Arts and at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra – IDEC in Barcelona where Carnicero earned her Master’s in Literary Creation in 2015. The exchange was supported by AVK Arts, the Insitut Ramon Llull, and the Fundació Han Nefkens.
Carnicero’s debut novel was published in 2016 by RBA Libros/La Magrana. In two interwoven narratives set forty years apart, the book chronicles a family’s ruptures and reconciliations, paralleling the struggle for self-identity in modern-day Catalonia. Meier, who currently manages Global Programs for the School of the Arts, noted of the text: “Very little contemporary Catalan writing exists in translation, to the detriment of a global readership attempting to understand the region’s independence cause. Marta’s novel is a family story, but the notions of distrust and self-determination that dominate the story of that family echo the story of her home—which makes it an ideal text to introduce English-language readers to contemporary Catalan literature.”

Current student Amanda Lee Koe was also awarded a grant for her translation of Ten Years of Marriage by Su Quing, seen as the ‘sovereign’ of the overlooked movement of "Missy Writers" in mid-century Chinese literary modernism. The novel mixes autobiography and fiction, tracing the rites of passage of a young woman from marriage to motherhood to unhappy domestic life; its portrayal of female sexuality and commentary on the restrictive social conventions of the era made it a runaway bestseller when it was published in the 1940s. Koe is the fiction editor of Esquire (Singapore), a 2013 Honorary Fellow of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, and the youngest winner of the Singapore Literature Prize for the short story collection Ministry of Moral Panic. She is based between Singapore and New York, where she is an MFA candidate in the Writing Program and is at work on her first novel. 
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 low number of literary translations currently appearing in English. Its purpose is to promote the publication and reception of translated international literature in English. Over the twelve years of its existence, the Fund has given grants 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.
Excerpts from Meier's and Koe's translations, as well as those of the other 2016 grantees, are available here.

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Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.