Saturday, August 06, 2016

nineteen titles submitted for 2016 Saif Ghobash Banipal Arabic translation prize

The number of entries for the £3,000 2016 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, now in its 11th year, is 19 works translated by 18 translators, comprising 17 works of fiction and two poetry collections. This is a major drop from the record figure of 29 titles submitted for the 2015 prize. But 2015 may have been something of an exception: in 2014  17 titles were submitted.

In terms of gender, there are eight female and ten male translators. Of the 19 titles,just  four are by women while there are 15 by men.

Only translations of works originally published in Arabic in 1967 or later are eligible for entry. Darf Publishers, Syracuse University Press, and CMES, University of Texas at Austin, USA, each have two titles in the running. Two of the 19 titles are novels by Sudanese author Amir Tag Elsir.

The 18 translators are: Kareem James Abu-Zeid, Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, Nesreen Akhtarkhavari and Anthony A Lee, Roger Allen, T M Aplin, Charis Bredin and Emily Danby, Nicole Fares, Russell Harris, Michelle Hartman, William M Hutchins (3 titles), Abdulwahid Lu‘lu‘a, Melanie Magidow, Nancy Roberts, Jonathan Smolin, Karim Traboulsi, and Jonathan Wright (2 titles). 

The chair of the judges of this year's prize is Dr Paul Starkeywinner of the 2015 prize for his translation of Youssef Rakha's The Book of the Sultan's Seal. His fellow judges are Professor Zahia Smail Salhi, Chair of Modern Arabic Studies at the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, The University of Manchester; writer, editor and critic Lucy Popescu, who has a background in human rights; and literary consultant and freelance editor Bill Swainson.

The submitted tiles are:


Confessions by Rabee Jaber, translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid (New Directions, USA)

The Bride of Amman by Fadi Zaghmout , translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp (Signal 8 Press, Hong Kong)


Desert Sorrows, poems by Tayseer al-Sboul, translated by Nesreen Akhtarkhavari and Anthony A Lee (Michigan State University Press, USA)

My Torturess by Bensalem Himmich, translated by Roger Allen (Syracuse University Press, USA - I reviewed the novel for Banipal magazine.)

Hurma by Ali al-Muqri, translated by T M Aplin (Darf Publishers, UK)


Ebola ’76 by Amir Tag Elsir, translated by Charis Bredin and Emily Danby (Darf Publishers, UK)



32 by Sahar Mandour, translated by Nicole Fares (Syracuse University Press, USA)


The Automobile Club of Egypt by Alaa Al Aswany, translated by Russell Harris (Knopf in the USA, Canongate in the UK) 


Ali and his Russian Mother by Alexandra Chreiteh, translated by Michelle Hartman (Interlink Publishing, USA)


Telepathy by Amir Tag Elsir, translated by William M Hutchins (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, Qatar)

The Scarecrow by Ibrahim al-Koni, translated by William M Hutchins (CMES, University of Texas at Austin, USA)

A Portal in Space by Mahmoud Saeed, translated by William M Hutchins (CMES, University of Texas at Austin, USA)

All Faces but Mine the poetry of Samih al-Qasim, translated by Abdulwahid Lu‘lu‘a (Syracuse University Press, USA)


Mortal Designs by Reem Bassiouney, translated by Melanie Magidow (AUC Press, Egypt/USA)

The Dust of Promises by Ahlem Mostaghanemi, translated by Nancy Roberts (Bloomsbury Publishing, UK)


Whitefly by Abdelilah Hamdouchi, translated by Jonathan Smolin (Hoopoe Fiction, Egypt/USA)

The Holy Sail by Abdulaziz al-Mahmoud, translated by Karim Traboulsi (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, Qatar)

The Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi, translated by Jonathan Wright (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, Qatar - my review for Banipal here)


The Televangelist by Ibrahim Essa, translated by Jonathan Wright (Hoopoe Fiction, Egypt/USA)
report by Susannah Tarbush

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