The translation and publication of Ravel was supported by “French Voices,” a translation grant program run by FACE (the French-American Cultural Exchange) and the Book Office of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. “French Voices” aims to make 30 contemporary French fiction and non-fiction books available in translation to American readers by the end of 2008, by helping to offset the risks involved in bringing translated texts to the American marketplace.
The publishers of selected books receive $6,000 to cover translation costs, and, if necessary, help identifying an American publishing house to distribute the book in the United States. In addition, translators can apply for a 6 to 8–week residency at the Villa Gillet in Lyon, France, so as to meet with the work’s French author while being immersed in the French language. Each “French Voices” work receives the patronage of a major American writer, either in the form of a preface, or through his or her involvement in a promotional event.
A committee of French and American professionals meets several times a year to read and discuss the works submitted for consideration by “French Voices.” Books must not have been published before 2000, and those embodying new trends in fiction or under-represented perspectives or points of view are especially sought. The committee is headed by a representative from the Book Office of the French Embassy’s Cultural Services and comprises representatives from the Translation Committee of PEN American Center as well as writers, translators, university professors, literary agents, editors, and booksellers. Committee members include:
Esther ALLEN (Columbia, Center for Literary Translation)
Olivier COHEN (L’Olivier)
Emmanuelle ERTEL (translator, NYU)
Stéphane GERSON (NYU, Institute of French Studies)
Siri HUSTVEDT (writer)
A. KAISER (translator) Suzanna LEA (agent)
Elisabeth PEELLAERT (translator)
Jeannette SEAVER (Arcade Publishing)
Frédéric VIGUIER (NYU, Institute of French Studies)
Alyson WATERS (translator, Yale)
Among the titles selected by the committee and already published, there are: Ravel by Jean Echenoz (with a preface by Adam Gopnik), Kick the Animal Out by Véronique Ovaldé (with a preface by Siri Husdvedt), and How to talk about books you haven’t read? by Pierre Bayard (with a preface by Francine Prose). Selected books that have not been published yet include Aux États-Unis d’Afrique by Abdourahman A. Waberi (with a preface by Percival Everett), Cousine K by Yasmina Khadra, Origines by Amin Maalouf, Le bébé by Marie Darrieussecq, Écrits politiques by Maurice Blanchot, La Vie extérieure by Annie Ernaux, and L’Intérieur de la nuit by Leonora Miano. Please see below for the full list of 2006-2007 grantees.