Thursday, August 09, 2012

22 entries for 2012 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation

The inside cover of the latest, 44th, issue of Banipal magazine of modern Arab literature shows the covers of the 22 entries - 19 novels and three poetry collections - for the 2012 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation.

This is the first time that the Banipal Trust for Arab Literature, which runs the £3,000-Sterling prize, has decided to reveal the details of the entries. It sees this as "an initiative that would encourage wider interest in the prize".

This year's judges are British poet and critic Ruth Padel, British novelist Esther Freud, Iraqi poet and novelist Fadhil Al-Azzawi and Arabic translator John Peate. The winner will be decided at a meeting in November, with the announcement made at the end of that month. The prize is due to be awarded on Monday 4 February 2013 at the annual translation awards ceremony at King's Place in London. The 2011 prize was won by Libyan translator, poet and scholar Khaled Mattawa for his translation of Adonis: Selected Poems (Yale University Press).

Humphrey Davies is "two and half times winner of the prize": he won in  2006, the prize's inaugural year, for his translation of Elias Khoury’s Gate of the Sun - published in the UK by Harvill Secker and in the USA by Archipelago Press - and in 2010 he won for Khoury's Yalo published by MacLehose Press in the UK, and  was also a runner up for his translation of Bahaa Taher's Sunset Oasis published in the UK by Sceptre.

Davies says he is pleased to see the front covers of all 22 entries for the 2012 prize pictured in Banipal 44, plus details of the translators:  it is "a great idea" to reveal the entries and the increased transparency can only have positive results for the prize. "One always wondered if a particular title was in the running or not", he remarked. "Looking at these 22 entries, what a range of literature there is from different publishers." He added that the covers alone, with their diversity and high quality of design, are an inviting statement of the strength of the new-found confidence of the Arabic novel on the British market.

Five of the 17 translators are submitted for translations of two books. They are Humphrey Davies for I Was Born There, I Was Born Here by Mourid Barghouti (Bloomsbury) and As Though She Were Sleeping by Elias Khoury (MacLehose Press); Raphael Cohen for The Art of Forgetting by Ahlem Mosteghanemi  (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing - BQFP)  and So You May See by Mona Prince (American University in Cairo - AUC - Press);  Amira Nowaira for The Tobacco Keeper by Ali Bader (BQFP) and Zeina by Nawal El Saadawi (Saqi Books);  Adam Talib for The Hashish Waiter by Khairy Shalaby (AUC Press) and Sarmada by Fadi Azzam (Swallow Editions); and Jonathan Wright for Taxi by Khaled Alkhamissi (BQFP) and Judgment Day by Rasha al Ameer (AUC Press).

The other entrants are Kareem James Abu-Zaid for The Palm House by Tarek Eltayeb (AUC Press); Roger Allen for A Muslim Suicide by Bensalem Himmich (Syracuse University Press); Sinan Antoon for In the Presence of Absence, poems by Mahmoud Darwish (Archipelago Books); Marwa Elnaggar for The Magic of Turquoise by Mai Khaled (AUC Press); Michelle Hartman for Always Coca Cola by Alexandra Chreiteh (Interlink, and Swallow Editions); Laila Helmi for Professor Hanaa by Reem Bassiouney (Garnet Publishing); Rebecca Gayle Howard with Husam Qaisi for Hagar Before the Occupation, Hagar After the Occupation - poems by Amal al-Jubouri (Alice James Books); Anthony Howell for Plague Lands and other poems by Fawzi Karim (Carcanet Press); Robin Moger for Vertigo by Ahmed Mourad (BQFP); Chip Rossetti for Utopia by Ahmed Khaled Towfik  (BQFP), Paul Starkey for We Are All Equally Far from Love by Adiana Shibli (Clockroot Books),  and Max Weiss for A Tunisian Tale by Hassouna Mossbahi (AUC Press).

report by Susannah Tarbush

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