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“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 blissful context 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 Foreign Affairs Minister 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. 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 1472 works to be translated to a considerable number of languages and with an approximate budget of USD 4.000.000.

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. 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 1472 translation applications which have already been approved include 420 Argentine authors -180 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 human right’s academic articles .

These 1472 works will be published in 51 countries ((Italy 281 titles, France 173, Germany 111, Brazil 105, Bulgaria 80, USA 78, Czech Republic 52, United Kingdom 45, Macedonia 42, Greece 36, Israel 34, Serbia 27, Portugal 25, Romania 25,  Sweden 24, Poland 23, Switzerland 22, Egypt 22, Netherlands 20, Hungary 20, Ukraine 18, Austria 17, Croatia 15, , Canada 15, Turkey 13, Russian Federation 12, Armenia 11, Vietnam 10, Spain 9, People´s Republic of China 9, Ethiopia 9, Albania 8, Slovenia 6, India 6, Thailand 4, Japan 4, , Syria 4, Azerbaijan 4, Georgia 4, South Korea 3, Belgium 3, Norway 3, Malaysia 2 , Lithuania 2, Nigeria 2, Australia 2, ,Trinidad and Tobago 1, Philippines 1, Iceland 1 and Iran 1, and into 49 languages (271 titles to Italian, to French, 162, , to English, 144, to German, 131, , to Portuguese, 129, to Bulgarian, 75, to Czech, 55, to Macedonian, 44, to Greek, 38, to Hebrew, 29, to Serbian, 29, to Polish, 26, to Arabic, 26, , to Swedish, 25, to Dutch, 24, to Rumanian, 24,  , to Hungarian, 20, to Ukrainian, 19, to Croatian, 16 , to Albanian 14, to Russian, 14, to Armenian, 14, to Turkish, 13, to Chinese, 12, to Vietnamese, 10, to Amharic, 9, to Slovenian 7, to Galician, 6, to Hindi 6, to Georgian, 6, to Thai, 5, to Korean, 4, to Danish 4; to Azeri, 4, to Norwegian, 3, , to Japanese 3, to Bengali 3, to Catalan 2; to Malay, 2, to Estonian 2; to Kurdish 2, to Guarani 2, to Lithuanian 2, and 1, to Icelandic, to Yoruba,  to Finish, to Bikol, to Tagalog and Persian.  

Undoubtedly, the enormous collaboration provided by the Argentine publishing Chambers and, in particular, by the Diplomatic and Consular Representations of Argentina abroad, publicizing the call made by Programme SUR, have been decisive in accounting for the remarkable geographical and cultural diversity of these responses.

The approved works (a few titles are being translated to a number of languages) include 500 novels, 137 poetry works, 126 short story books, 20 anthologies (some by various authors, as mentioned, and others by specific authors), 30 playwriting works (containing 35 plays), 14 comic books, 21 historical political essays, 37 children and youth literature, 16 autobiographies (testimonials and diaries), 15 of chronicles, 16 of literary criticism, 6 non-fiction literature, 23 of general interest, 6 of investigative reporting, 3 essays on architecture, 1 on cooking, 1 of prose poetry, 10 of conferences,  2 essays on psychoanalysis, 1 essay on economics, 1 nouvelle, 8 testimonial works about Human and civil rights, gender issues and several of complete narrative as well as poetry anthologies

On the other hand, the multiplying effect of Programme SUR must also be counted, since several literary agents have reported sales for over 260 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. Moreover, most of the writers are from the city of Buenos Aires  followed by the province of Buenos Aires Following these, Santa Fe (most of whom are from Rosario), Córdoba, Entre Ríos, Mendoza , Río Negro , Chaco , San Juan , Tucumán , Jujuy , San Luis , Chubut , La Pampa , Salta , Santiago del Estero, Corrientes and Neuquén.

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, several 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 Pavlovsky, 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, was 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: 

Julio CORTÁZAR (47 grants to be published abroad: Salvo el crepúsculo into French; Rayuela and Cuentos Completos into Georgian; Poesías to Bulgarian; Diario de Andrés Fava into Italian; Antología de relatos to Georgian; Papeles inesperados to Rumanian and Cuentos and Rayuela to Armenian, Bestiario and Los autonautas de la cosmopista to Danish, Bulgarian and Greek, Las armas secretas, Bestiario, Historias de cronopios y de famas, Final del juego, Todos los fuegos el fuego to Ukrainian and Swedish; El examen into Albanian and Italian. Las cartas to Italian; 62/Modelo para armar to Ukrainian, Serbian and Macedonian; Papeles inesperados to Polish; Las armas secretas to Bulgarian; Animalia to Serbian; Un tal Lucas to Italian, Greek and Bulgarian; La fascinación de las palabras to Greek; Los autonautas de la cosmopista to Greek; Final del juego to Thai; Mitologías (selección de textos) to Bulgarian; 62/Modelo para armar to Bulgarian, Ensayos selectos to Hungarian, Queremos tanto a Glenda and Deshoras to Ukrainian and Italiana, La vuelta al día en ochenta mundos to Romanian, Selección de cartas to Italian, Los relatos. Ahí y ahora to Armenian, Corrección de pruebas en Alta Provenza to Italian, Clases de literatura en Berkeley to Portuguese, Serbian and and Bulgarian, Selección de cuentos into Albanian, Los premios into Serbian, Todos los fuegos el fuego into Ukrainian, Deshoras into Italian, among others).

Roberto ARLT (32 grants to be published abroad: Aguafuertes porteñas into French, Albanian and Italian; Aguafuertes españolas into Italian, Los Siete locos to German, Arabic, Rumanian, Kurdish,.Serbian, Marathí, Hindi, Albanian, Turkish, Czech and Bulgarian; El juguete rabioso to Arabic, Hindi, Finish, Armenian, Albanian, Bengalí, Bulgarian and Portuguese; El amor brujo to Italian; En el país del viento-Viaje a la Patagonia to Italian; Viaje terrible to Italian, Los lanzallamas to Hindi and Bulgarian, La fiesta del hierro to Ukrainian, Prueba de amor/La isla desierta into Greek, El criador de gorilas into Italian and Macedonian, among others.)

Jorge Luis BORGES (30 grants to be published abroad: El Aleph to Malay and Turkish, 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  and Otras inquisiciones into Bulgarian; El Aleph, Historia de la eternidad, Historia universal de la infamia, El Hacedor, Ficciones y Otras Inquisiciones, Siete noches into Ukrainian; 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); Obra poética completa to Dutch; Selección de ensayos to Bulgarian; Evaristo Carriego to Czech, Poesía completa to Bikol and Tagalog, Cuentos completos into Albanian, El libro de arena into Thai, Obras completas II into Swedish, Ensayos escogidos into Hungarian, among others.)

Ricardo PIGLIA (29 grants to be published abroad: La ciudad ausente to Hungarian, Turkish, French and Italian; Plata quemada to French, Bulgarian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Croatian and Russian; Blanco nocturno to English, Greek, Portuguese, German, Swedish, Macedonian, Hungarian and a selection of short stories from La invasión, Nombre falso and Prisión perpetua to German; El último lector to German; Respiración artificial to Czech, Macedonian and Italian, El camino de Ida into Hebrew, English, Bulgarian and German, Crítica y Ficción into Italian, Los diarios de Emilio Renzi. Años de formación into English, Formas breves into Italian, among others.

César AIRA (25 grants to be published abroad: Las noches de Flores to German and Greek; Cómo me hice monja into Macedonian, Bulgarian and Arabic; Los fantasmas to Italian, Hungarian, Croatian, Arabic, Dutch, Macedonian and German; Un episodio en la vida del pintor viajero to Hungarian, Serbian and Bulgarian,  El Congreso de Literatura to German; Varamo to Croatian, Alejandra Pizarnik to French, Ema La cautiva into Bulgarian, Las conversaciones into Bulgarian, Pequeño monje budista into English, Cumpleaños into English, Relatos reunidos into Chinese, Prins into Bulgarian, La prueba into Bulgarian, among others)

Claudia PIÑEIRO (24 grants to be published abroad: Las viudas de los jueves to English, Hebrew, Serbian, Albanian, Bulgarian, Romanian and German; Elena sabe into Dutch, English, Polish and German; Betibú to French, Rumanian, Estonian, Bulgarian and German; Tuya to Bulgarian, Polish and Lithuanian, Las grietas de Jara into Italian, Una suerte pequeña into Azerí, Czech and Polish and Las maldiciones into Polish, among others);

Juan José SAER (16 grants to be published abroad: El entenado to Hebrew, Macedonian and Czech; La pesquisa to Italian, Hebrew, Bulgarian and Czech; La grande to Portuguese; Lugar to Greek, Cicatrices to Italian, Las nubes into Italian and Czech, Lo imborrable to Romanian, La ocasion into Czech, Nadie, nada, nunca into Czech, Glosa into Italian, among others.)

Samanta SCHWEBLIN (15 grants to be published abroad: Pájaros en la boca into German, to Albanian, to Hungarian, Czech and Chinese; Selección de cuentos into Italian, Cuentos completos to Serbian, Distancia de rescate into Serbian, to Georgian and Czech, Siete casas vacías into Serbian, to Albanian and Croatian, Kentukis into French, to Albanian, among others);

Rodolfo WALSH (13 grants to be published abroad: Operación Masacre into French, German, English, Hindi, Greek and Portuguese; Cuentos literarios completos to Portuguese and Cuentos policiales to German and Cuentos literarios to German; Variaciones en rojo y otros casos del comisario Jiménez to Portuguese; La máquina del bien y del mal to Italian; Los oficios terrestres into Italian, Un kilo de oro to Italian, among others);

LINIERS –Ricardo Siri- (13 grants to be published abroad: Macanudo Vol. 1 to Czech; Bonjour to Portuguese; Macanudo Vol. 2 y 3 to Italian, Macanudo Vol. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 y 8 to Czech, Los sábados son como un gran globo rojo into Czech, Buenas noches, planeta! into Chzech, among others); 

Eduardo SACHERI (12 grants to be published abroad: Aráoz y la verdad into German; La pregunta de sus ojos to Hebrew, Bulgarian, English, Chinese, Serbian, Hungarian and Czech; Papeles en el viento into French and English, La noche de la usina into Hungarian and Greek, among others)

Adolfo BIOY CASARES (12 grants to be published abroad: Los que aman, odian –with Silvina Ocampo- into German; El sueño de los héroes; Diario de la guerra del cerdo and Cuentos cortos to Bulgarian; Diario de la guerra del cerdo to Portuguese; La invención de Morel to Norwegian and Croatian; Una muñeca rusa to Chinese; Seis problemas para don Isidro Parodi to Bulgarian and Macedonian, Dormir al sol into Italian, among others); 

Ana María SHUA (11 grants to be published abroad: La muerte como efecto secundario to English, French; El libro de los recuerdos to Italian and Macedonian; La puerta para salir al mundo to Armenian; Caracol presta su casa to Armenian; Fenómenos de circo to English; Botánica del caos to Italian; Soy paciente to French, La sueñera to Greek; Hija into English, among others.)

Mariana ENRÍQUEZ (9 grants to be published abroad: Alguien camina sobre tu tumba into Italian; Chicos que vuelven into Swedish; Cómo desaparecer completamente into German; Cuando hablábamos con los muertos into Italian; Los peligros de fumar en la cama into English; Las cosas que perdimos en el fuego into Italian, Lithuanian and English; Este es el mar into Czech, among others)

Rafael SPREGELBURD (9 grants to be published abroad: Heptalogía de Hieronymus Bosch to Italian in two volumes, to Czech and Slavic and La paranoia to French; La estupidez/El pánico to Portuguese; La paranoia/La terquedad to Portuguese; La inapetencia/La extravagancia/La modestia al Portuguese; Tres apuntes sobre dramaturgia to Italian; Lúcido in verbos irregulares to Italian);

Pablo DE SANTIS (9 grants to be published abroad: El enigma de París to Bulgarian, Russian, Mandarin, Hungarian and German; El último espía to Italian and La sexta lámpara to Russian, Crímenes y jardines to Hungarian, Filosofía y Letras to Hebrew);

Luisa VALENZUELA (9 grants to be published abroad:: El mañana to German and Korean; El gato eficaz to English, Cuentos to Korean, Los deseos oscuros y los otros to English, Hay que sonreír to French, Serbian and Turkish, Novela negra con argentinos to Serbian, Peligrosas palabras into Serbian, among others)

Mempo GIARDINELLI (9 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, Luli, una gatita de ciudad to Portuguese, Luna caliente to Bulgarian, 9 historias de amor into Bulgarian, Qué solos se quedan los muertos into Portuguese, Final de novela en Patagonia into Portuguese, among others);

María Rosa LOJO (8 grants to be published abroad: Finisterre to Thai; La Princesa Federal and Las libres del Sur to Italian; Amores insólitos de nuestra historia to French; La pasión de los nómades to English; Árbol de familia to Italian, Bosque de ojos to French, Esperan la mañana verde to French);

Alan PAULS (8 grants to be published abroad: El pasado to Greek, Russian and Portuguese; Historia del llanto to German; Historia del pelo to French and Italian, Historia del dinero to Portuguese and Italian);

Guillermo MARTÍNEZ (8 grants to be published abroad: La muerte lenta de Luciana B. to Bulgarian and Hebrew; Acerca de Roderer to Dutch, Bulgarian and Macedonian; Crímenes imperceptibles to Macedonian; Yo también tuve una novia bisexual to Bulgarian, among others)

Ernesto SÁBATO (8 grants to be published abroad: El túnel to German, Antes del fin to Italian, Ensayos to Ukrainian, Abbadón el exterminador to Romanian and Albanese, Sobre Héroes y Tumbas to Albanese, Antes del fin into Serbian, Informe sobre ciegos into Portuguese, among others)

Tamara KAMENSZAIN (7 grants to be published abroad: Perdidos en familia to German; Solos y solas to English; El Ghetto to English; El eco de mi madre to English, Italian and Portuguese)

Lucía PUENZO:( 7 grants to be published abroad: La maldición de Jacinta Pichimahuida al German , El niño pez to English and Romanian, Wakolda to German, Norwegian, English and Hungarian)

Antonio DI BENEDETTO (7 grants to be published abroad: Zama to Hebrew, to English, to Italian and to Czech; Los suicidas to Greek, El silenciero to Czech)

Ariel MAGNUS (7 grants to be published abroad: Un chino en bicicleta into Rumanian, German, Hebrew, Italian and Croatian; El que mueve las piezas into Portuguese and English, among others).

Juan GELMAN (6 grants to be published abroad: Valer la pena to Japanese, Carta abierta (Interrupciones I) to English, Citas y comentarios to English, Composiciones to English, De trasalante en su porfía into Slovenian y Poemas de Sydney West to Bulgarian)

Liliana BODOC (5 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); La saga de los confines -Los días del Fuego (Libro III) to Netherlander) and Los días del Venado to English.

Sergio BIZZIO ( 5 grants to be published abroad: Realidad to Bulgarian and Italian; Rabia to German; Netherlander and Borgenstein to Italian);

Selva ALMADA ( 4 grants to be published abroad: El viento que arrasa into Swedish and English; Ladrilleros into Dutch; Chicas muertas into English, among others)

Included in these 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; La Refalosa by Hilario Ascasubi, Una excursión a los indios Ranqueles by Lucio V. Mansilla; Antología poética y de cuentos by Leopoldo Lugones; Oasis en la vida by Juana Manuela Gorriti; Los gauchos judíos by Alberto Gerchunoff; Sin rumbo by Eugenio Cambaceres; El juguete rabioso, Los siete locos and Aguafuertes porteñas by Roberto Arlt; Antología de cuentos by Horacio Quiroga; Adán Buenosayres by Leopoldo Marechal; El Aleph, Ficciones and complete poetic works of 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 and Los suicidas by Antonio Di Benedetto; La grande, La pesquisa, Cicatrices  and El entenado by Juan José Saer and El túnel, Abbadón el exterminador and Antes del fin de Ernesto Sábato.

Programa SUR