Esther Allen is a writer and translator. A professor in the Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian and  French Ph.D. Programs at City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center and at  Baruch College (CUNY), she is a two-time recipient of National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowships (1995 and 2010) and was a 2009-2010 Fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. In 2014-2015, she was a Biography Fellow at the Leon Levy Center for Biography, working on a biography of José Martí, under contract with Henry Holt & Co. In 2017, her translation of Zama, by Antonio Di Benedetto, won the National Translation Award.


She co-founded the PEN World Voices Festival in 2005, and guided the work of the PEN/Heim Translation Fund from its inception in 2003 to 2010. In 2006, the French government named her a Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres. For PEN International and the Institut Ramon Lull, she edited To Be Translated or Not To Be, published in English, Catalan and German and distributed at the 2007 Frankfurt Book Fair. In 2012 she received the Feliks Gross Award from the CUNY Academy for the Arts and Sciences.

Her essays, translations and interviews have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, the Paris Review, Words Without Borders, Bomb, LitHub, and other publications.