Brazil’s Biblioteca Nacional and Translation Support Program

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of translations from world literatures into English. This increase is, without a doubt, a result of the global interest in translated fiction. But in the case of Brazil, there is also another stimulus for the publishers around the world: Biblioteca Nacional’s Translation Support Program. Throughout the month, I will not only present Brazilian writers and their works but also inform our readers about the institutional aspect of Brazilian literature.

Biblioteca Nacional (BN – National Library of Brazil) is the responsible agency for the the capture, storage, preservation, and diffusion of Brazil’s intellectual production. Situated in Rio de Janeiro (Cinelândia Square), the library is Brazil’s oldest cultural institution with its more than 200 years of history. UNESCO considers the library as one of the world’s oldest libraries.

BN has more than 9 million items in its collections. It is the largest library in Latin America and the 7th largest library in the world. Among its facilities are Euclides da Cunha Library (BEC), Machado de Assis Auditorium, Eliseu Visconti Cultural Center, Casa da Leitura, music and sound archives, and a book store. Teresa Cristina Maria Photograph Collection, which includes 21,742 photographs dating from the nineteenth century is regarded one of the most important collections the library owns. In order to diffuse the national memory and knowledge, BN takes actions that involve editorial production, translation programs, and research.

Translation Support Program

Researchers, translators, and foreign editors can apply to library’s support programs if they are working on a project that values Brazilian culture and authors. As a recipient of support from this program for my translation of Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of the Star into Turkish, I know from my fırst-hand experience that although there is a comprehensive application process, the support program constitutes a motivation to publish Brazilian literature. A recent example to show the influence of the program is the success of Clarice Lispector’s The Complete Stories translated by Katrina Dodson. The Complete Stories, which received support from the program, was released in the US by New Directions and chosen by The New York Times among the best books of 2015.

This is how the program defines its mission: “The Support Program for the Translation and Publication of Brazilian Authors, created by Biblioteca Nacional (Brazilian National Library), aims to disseminate Brazilian culture and literature abroad by offering financial support for translation and publication of works by Brazilians authors abroad. The Program is offered to foreign publishers who wish to translate works by Brazilian authors, previously published in Portuguese in Brazil, into any language, both in print or digital format, including publishing or distribution.”

The publisher must present a project for translation or reissue of an already translated Brazilian work. The public notice with all the information about the registrations is launched every two years. The final product must be a printed book, an e-book or both. All the candidates must include a marketing and distribution plan, as well as the translator’s resume and the copyright contract signed by the author, in case it is not a public domain work. Each project is evaluated by a committee of consultants.

An interesting data about the support program shows the popularity of canonical writers among foreign publishers: Based on program data, Clarice Lispector emerges as the most requested author by foreign publishers, closely followed by Machado de Assis. Overall, the Support Program for the Translation and Publication of Brazilian Authors has sponsored 40 translations of works by Clarice Lispector to 16 languages in 20 different countries.

Residence Program For Foreign Translators in Brazil

Foreign translators who are translating works from Brazilian literature can apply for this program to cover their residence in Brazil. Annually a public notice is launched containing all the information about the registrations.

The translators benefiting from the program are invited to immerse in the Brazilian culture. They also have the opportunity to attend workshops, lectures, courses and other activities promoted by cultural and educational institutions in partnership with the Brazilian National Library (BN).

Exchange Program for Brazilian Authors

Foreign publishers and cultural institutions are potential candidates interested in obtaining scholarships to cover Brazilian authors’ travel costs abroad, aiming to organize literary events, disclosure tours, and other activities. The information about the registrations can be found in the public notice, launched annually for publishers’ selection.

(For more information:


“This is a record of woman’s entire life, written over a woman’s entire life. As such, it seems to be the first such total record written in any country. This sweeping claim requires qualifications. A wife and a mother; a bourgeois, Western, heterosexual woman’s life. A woman who was not interrupted: a woman who did not start writing late, or stop for marriage or children, or succumb to drugs or suicide. A woman who, like so many male writers, began in her teens and carried on to the end. A woman who, in demographic respects, was exactly like most of her readers.”

Clarice Lispector, “Glamour and Grammar”, The Complete Stories. Trans. Katrina Dodson. New Directions, 2015.

About the Writer:

Basak Bingol Yuce is a world literature scholar, journalist, and literary translator based in the US. She holds a PhD degree in comparative literature from Binghamton University. One of her areas of study is Brazilian literature. Dr. Yuce’s journalistic work focuses on literary and international journalism. She is a regular contributor to Turkish media outlets. Dr. Yuce translated books and articles from English, French and Portuguese into Turkish, among them the works of Clarice Lispector, Terry Eagleton, Antonio Candido, André Aciman, Ken Bruen, and Harold Bloom.

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