The Lontar Foundation recently announced that the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture has established a translation funding program. Just last week, at the Liepzig Book Fair, representatives of the Ministry formally announced the establishment of its “I-Lit (Indonesian Literarature in Translation) Program”. Details on the I-Lit Program may be found at www.indonesiafbf.com.
Distinct from other translation funding programs around the world, where often only foreign publishers are able to apply for translation subsidies, Indonesia’s program is unique in its inclusiveness, offering translation subsidies not only to foreign publishers who buy rights to Indonesian book titles but also to Indonesian publishers who can guarantee the publication of a translation in a foreign language; to professional translators who can prove to have secured interest on the part of a publisher in publishing their translation; and to authors who can prove to have secured commitment from a professional translator to translate their work and interest on the part of a foreign-language publisher in publishing their work in translation.
Indonesia, the fourth most populous country in the world, has almost no “name recognition factor” in the literary world and this new program aims to change that fact. Over the years, the Lontar Foundation has endeavored to change this situation but our success has been limited at best and the Ministry’s establishment of the I-Lit Program is the most important thing to have happened in the world of Indonesian literature in translation since Lontar’s founding 26 years ago.