The Sierra Leonean-Ugandan writer and translator Yarri Kamara has won the 2020 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant. Kamara, who lives in Burkina Faso, received it for her in-progress translation of the French-language novel Si loin de ma vie (So Distant From My Life) by the Burkinabe author Monique Ilboudo.
The PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant, an initiative of PEN America, awards grants annually “to promote the publication and reception of translated world literature in English.” It was created in 2003—courtesy of a gift from Priscilla and Michael Henry Heim—in response to the disappointing number of literary translations appearing in English.
The 2020 awardees were selected from 262 eligible applications. According to PEN America, “Each 2020 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant winning project will receive a grant of $3,481, and the winner of the PEN Grant for the English Translation of Italian Literature will receive a $5,000 grant, to support the translation’s completion.” Here’s an official description of Yarri Kamara’s project from PEN America:
Burkinabe author Monique Ilboudo’s novel So Distant From My Life offers a compelling and complex portrait of migration, one of the defining global concerns of the 21st century, through the story of a young man who seeks opportunities in Europe that are unavailable to him in Africa. Yarri Kamara, an emerging translator from Sierra Leone and Uganda who now lives in Burkina Faso, has rendered Ilboudo’s original French text in a West African English idiom that conveys the sharp humor, lucid descriptions, and urgency of the original.
Order the French edition of the novel HERE.
Congratulations to Yarri Kamara.