In 2006, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, in partnership with the PEN American Center, launched the French Voices program. The objective was to create what would become, over an initial period of three years, a collection of 30 books representing the best of contemporary French and Francophone literature and thought. Fourteen years later, the collection has largely surpassed its objective and is now more than 150 titles strong. It includes a wide range of works representing some of the best of French-language fiction and non-fiction alike. Thanks to support from the Florence Gould Foundation and the Mellon Foundation, the program became, in 2013, the French Voices Awards.
The French Voices Awards recognize the quality of both the original work and the translation. A committee of independent professional experts (academics, translators, and publishers) selects works that epitomize the many facets of a vibrant French literary scene. Awards go to books representing new trends in fiction and graphic novels and bold and important points of view in non-fiction. The committee also announces two Grand Prize Winners (in fiction and non-fiction) at a prestigious ceremony held every year in the Spring. The $6000 awards are shared between the publisher and the translator while the Grand prize winners receive $10,000.
The French works published in the US each carry a logo and receive the patronage of a major American writer in the form of a foreword, and he/she may participate in major public events with the author and translators. Past forewords for the French Voices award have been written by a host of eminent writers: Percival Everett, Siri Hustvedt, Luc Sante, Rick Moody, Elie Wiesel, Francine Prose, Jonathan Lethem, Edmund White, among many other illustrious authors, have all introduced a French Voices work to the US.
The Book Department of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy works with FACE Foundation, the Institut français and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to promote French and Francophone literature and to encourage English translations of French fiction and non-fiction. To that effect, it provides a range of grants and awards. It oversees three bi-annual programs concerning translations from French into English of works that have not yet been published in the United States. All of these are awarded to fiction and nonfiction translations (including comic books, poetry and digital books).
The French Voices Award honors both translators and American publishers for English translations of works that have been published in France in the last 6 years. Award recipients are selected by a literary committee. Each book receives a $6,000 award ($4,000 to cover the preface and the publishing costs and a $2,000 non-negotiable bonus to be allocated to the translator; and respectively $5,000 and $1,000 in case of a comic book or picture book).
Furthermore, the French Voices Committee will now choose a Grand Prize Winner each year. The winner will receive $10,000 in total ($6,000 to cover the preface and the publishing costs and a $4,000 non-negotiable bonus to be allocated to the translator; and respectively $7,000 and $3,000 in case of a comic book or picture book).
The Hemingway Grant program allows publishers to receive financial help for the translation and publication of a French work into English. Grant beneficiaries are selected by the Book Department of the French Embassy in the United States. Grants awarded for each work range from $500 to $3,000.
The Acquisition of Rights Program helps American publishers offset the cost of acquiring the rights to French works. Grant beneficiaries are selected by the Institut français in Paris. The amount awarded cannot exceed the amount of the advance paid to the French publisher for the acquisition of rights and varies from 500 to 7,000 Euros.
Cultural Services of the French Embassy