Singapore Apprenticeship in Literary Translation (Salt)

Want to break into the literary translation industry? Need professional help on how to translate a book, negotiate a contract and pitch to publishers? Apply now for the Singapore Apprenticeship in Literary Translation (Salt) programme!


What is Salt?

Singapore Apprenticeship in Literary Translation, or Salt, is a new capability development programme aimed at training literary translators for the publishing industry. Participants will undergo a rigorous and industry-oriented 5-month training, in which they will:

  • learn the skills and craft of translating a book-length project (Chinese to English or English to Chinese);
  • put together a translation sample and synopsis package for pitching to publishers and agents;
  • gain experience in the best practices of the profession, including understanding the business, legal and ethical issues involved in their work.

Each translator will be paired with a mentor who is an established professional in the field of literary translation. They will work on a book-length project, or the equivalent. The mentors will oversee the translation process and offer guidance to apprentices. The apprentices will be assigned titles to translate, which will be publications of Singapore literature, based on their interest, skills and experience.

Each apprentice will produce a translation sample and synopsis package, in cooperation with her/his mentor. It includes a synopsis of the entire book-length work and a sample translation of 20,000 to 30,000 words from the work.

The package will be assessed by a professional literary agent, who will give feedback on how to make the package convincing and saleable to meet market expectations.

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Who can apply to Salt?

Salt is open to only Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents. Emerging translators, writers/poets who are transitioning into translation, or established translators who are transitioning into literary translation are all welcome to apply.

A maximum of 10 apprentices will be selected from the applications. Selection of the participants will be based on criteria that includes track record, translation samples, potential of the applicant, and interview (where necessary). The participant can choose their language track (either Chinese to English, or English to Chinese).

If selected, the apprentices would have to commit to the 5-month programme and pay a non-refundable fee of S$500.

You can apply here. The application deadline is 13 Oct 2017. Only selected apprentices will be notified end of October.


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Who is involved?

Salt is co-organised by Tender Leaves Translation and The Select Centre, and supported by the National Arts Council. Established translator and writer Shelly Bryant is the programme director who will oversee Salt. The mentors include:

  • Shelly Bryant (Chinese to English)
  • Jeremy Tiang (Chinese to English)
  • Loh Nyuk Fong (Chinese to English and English to Chinese)
  • Sun Li (English to Chinese)
  • Peng Lun (English to Chinese)

The literary agent is Marysia Juszczakiewicz from Peony Literary Agency. Please refer to bios of Salt Mentors for their full bios.

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What is the schedule and programme structure?

Salt will run for five months from November 2017 to March 2018. The mentors will set the various milestones and deadlines for the apprentices to produce the synopsis and translation samples. There will be two half-day sessions that all the apprentices are required to attend: Orientation and Literary Translation Workshop, and Review and Debrief Session. They will be conducted by Shelly Bryant.

1. Orientation and Literary Translation Workshop (25 Nov 2017)

This session will give an overview of Salt, including the goals, expectations, as well as how the apprentice will work with the mentor. It will cover the creative processes, the business aspects of translating for publication, as well as understanding and adapting to the market forces.

2. Review and Debrief Session (end March 2018)

Shelly Bryant will conduct one-to-one sessions with the apprentices to go through their feedback from the literary agent. Apprentices will get to finetune their synopsis and translation samples, and sharpen their pitches to publishers and agents.

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Who can I contact for more information?

Please write to us at programmes@selectcentre.org if you need more information.

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Bios of Salt Mentors

(Chinese to English)

1. Shelly Bryant

Shelly Bryant divides her year between Shanghai and Singapore, working as a poet, writer, and translator. She is the author of seven volumes of poetry (Alban Lake and Math Paper Press), a pair of travel guides for the cities of Suzhou and Shanghai (Urbanatomy), and a book on classical Chinese gardens (Hong Kong University Press). She has translated work from the Chinese for Penguin Books, Epigram Publishing, the National Library Board in Singapore, Giramondo Books, and Rinchen Books. Shelly's poetry has appeared in journals, magazines, and websites around the world, as well as in several art exhibitions. Her translation of Sheng Keyi’s Northern Girls was long-listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2012 and her translation of You Jin’s In Time, Out of Place was short-listed for the Singapore Literature Prize in 2016.

(Chinese to English)

2. Jeremy Tiang

Jeremy Tiang has translated more than 10 books from Chinese, including novels by You Jin, Yeng Pway Ngon, Zhang Yueran and Chan Ho-Kei, and has also translated the winning Chinese-language entries for the Golden Point Award. He has been awarded an NEA Literature Translation Fellowship, an International Writing Fellowship from the University of Iowa, and a PEN/ Heim Grant. He also writes and translates plays, including Dragon Bones by Quah Sy Ren and Han Lao Da (The Arts House) and A Son Soon by Xu Nuo (Manchester Royal Exchange). Jeremy's own writing includes It Never Rains on National Day (shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize) and State of Emergency (shortlisted for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize). He won the Golden Point Award in 2009. Jeremy is currently serving as a mentor for the American Literary Translators Association.

(Chinese to English and English to Chinese)

3. Loh Nyuk Fong

Loh Nyuk Fong holds a BA (Hon) in Japanese Studies, with minors in English Studies and Chinese Studies, from the National University of Singapore. She has worked as a language teacher, teaching Chinese and English to private students in Singapore, and later teaching Chinese at Clear Creek High School in League City, Texas, US. She has worked as a translator with the Tender Leaves team since the earliest days, serving as mentor to Shelly Bryant in her early career. Nyuk Fong offered guidance on numerous projects, including Sheng Keyi’s Death Fugue, You Jin’s In Time, Out of Place, Fan Wen’s Land of Mercy, and Li Na’s memoir Li Na: My Life. Her own translations have included work on excerpts from Dark Room, A Yi’s Reminiscing Life on Earth, and an ongoing research project involving numerous primary documents related to Singapore’s first film, Xin Ke (A New Friend, 《新客》).

(English to Chinese)

4. Sun Li

Sun Li, another founding member of the Tender Leaves team, is a professor of English Literature, Language, and Translation at Shanghai International Studies University, where she has taught since 1992. Her work includes translation, editing, and teaching. She has been involved in numerous translations of academic and literary writing, and has been a part of the editorial team for the The Cambridge History of American Literature, the English-Chinese Dictionary with Detailed Notes, and The New Century Multi-functional English-Chinese Dictionary (Shanghai International Studies University Press), English-Chinese and Chinese-English Translation (Fudan University Press), and Journey to the Beginning of the World (Rapscallion Press). Her most recent translation projects include translation of A New Way Forward for Tibet (National University of Singapore Press) and Dark Room (Esplanade, Singapore). She, along with Loh Nyuk Fong, served as one of Shelly Bryant’s mentors in the early stages of Shelly’s career, offering close guidance on works such as Sheng Keyi’s Northern Girls and Fields of White.

(English to Chinese)

5. Peng Lun

Peng Lun is an established Chinese publisher and literary translator based in Shanghai. He was formerly Deputy Editor of Shanghai 99 Readers’ Culture Co Ltd and has published many noted international writers, including Mario Vargas Llosa, J. M. G. le Clezio, Patrick Modiano, Julio Cortazar, William Trevor, Philip Roth, Michael Ondaatje, Colm Toibin, Javier Marias, Paul Auster, and Colum McCann. In 2017, he set up Archipel Press, his own publishing firm, focusing on foreign fiction and narrative non-fiction. He also works as a foreign rights agent for some Chinese writers including Jin Yucheng, Xiao Bai, and Huo Yan. Literary works he has translated include: Patrimony: A True Story (Philip Roth), Everyman (Philip Roth), At Random: The Reminiscences Of Bennett Cerf (Bennett Cerf), and Max Perkins: Editor Of Genius (A. Scott Berg). His current translation project is Avid Reader: A Life (Robert Gottlieb).

Literary agent

With a degree in Chinese, Marysia Juszczakiewicz set up one of the first author representation agencies in Asia called Creative Work Limited. In 2010 she founded her own agency, Peony Literary Agency. She is one of few agents in the Asian field specialising in sales of copyright both in and out of Asia with a business specializing in author representation and subagenting.

Marysia has extensive experience of publishing and agenting in both the UK and Asia. She has successfully sold international rights for Peony clients. She was the first agent to represent the recent Nobel Prize winner Mo Yan and sold English language rights for his novel Sandalwood Death. Other successes include sales to the UK and US in a fiercely contested auction on Jang Jin Sung's memoir, poet laureate to Kim Jong Il, The Fat Years (Random House) by Chan Koonchung which has sold into nearly 20 languages, The Flowers of War (Random House) by Yan Geling which was adapted into a film starring Christian Bale and directed by Zhang Yimou, and sold into over 15 languages.

Marysia also represents the biggest blogger in China today, Han Han. She sold Han Han's recent series of controversial blogs and essays entitled, This Generation, to Simon & Schuster as well as Su Tong's novel, Boat to Redemption, which won the 2009 Man Asian Prize.

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