For the first time, PEN is giving money to translate a Yiddish work.
Each year, PEN America, the local branch of the international writers organization, offers grants for works of translation. Last week it announced 14 grants of $3,670 each.
Among the recipients was Ellen Cassedy, for her translation of selected stories by Yenta Mash. The story was first reported by the Yiddish Daily Forward.
The stories are “a vivid and often humorous portrayal of Jewish and non-Jewish life in three very different 20th-century societies: Moldova, the Soviet Union, and Israel,” according to PEN.
Yenta Mash was born in 1922 and grew up in a small town in Moldova. In 1941, she and her parents were exiled to a Siberian labor camp, from which she escaped in 1948. She then spent a number of years working as a bookkeeper in Kishinev. In 1977, Mash immigrated to Israel and settled in Haifa, where she finally gained the courage to begin writing and publishing her work. Her last book was published in 2007 and she died in 2013.
The Yiddish Book Center also provided some funding for Cassedy’s translation of Mash’s work.