CSU, Chico News

Sara Cooper Receives NEA Translation Fellowship

Date: 07-25-2012

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs

Sara E. Cooper, Department of Foreign Language and Literature, California State University, has received one of 16 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Translation Fellowships for $12,500. The 16 works selected include drama, poetry and prose. The texts range from classical to contemporary literature from 14 countries from Central America to the Indian subcontinent and involve 10 different languages.

Cooper will translate the novel “The Bleeding Wound” by Cuban writer Mirta Yáñez from Spanish to English, making it available to a much wider audience. Published in 2010 and winner of Spain's Premio de la Crítica, this story charts the history of Havana from the 1959 socialist revolution to the present. “The author of more than 25 works of prose, poetry and nonfiction, Yáñez offers a humorous yet poignant perspective on the complicated realities of Cuba's past and its future,” said Cooper. “She transcends local and national borders in a tale that literary critic Uva de Aragón asserts ‘portrays the existential angst of any human being.’”

Cooper earned her PhD in Spanish at the University of Texas at Austin and currently teaches language courses at California State University, Chico. She is the founder of Cubanabooks Press, an independent press dedicated to publishing work by Cuban women. Cooper met Yáñez in San Francisco in 1998 and has visited her in Cuba on several occasions.

The news release issued by the NEA on the awards reported that fewer than 5 percent of all books published in the United States are works in translation, and an even smaller percentage of these books are works of fiction or poetry. To address this lack of foreign literature in the U.S., the NEA began awarding literary translation fellowships in 1981. Since then, it has been one of the most reliable sources of funding for literary translation in the country.