I have heard, from @zuberino, that the publicity-shy University of Arkansas (X)* Center for Middle East Studies has announced that the exceptionally talented Samah Selim has won their Arabic Literature Translation award for 2011 for her translation of Jurji Zaidan’s Tree of Pearls.
It’s noted here on the University of Arkansas website; but I can’t find mention of it elsewhere. I also don’t know anything about the jury, selection process, nor when it was announced.
As @zuberino notes, this is a fairly big deal, as “That makes her [Selim] the only person to win both the Banipal and the Arkansas translation awards!”
Jurji Zaidan (1861-1914), it seems, will finally see a spate of translations into English. Zaidan, a Beirut-born author, was one of the leaders of the 19th century “Arab renaissance,” and founder of Cairo’s al-Hilal. He wrote 20-some popular historical novels. And, according to translator and scholar Dr. Issa Boullata, “recently his grandson, Dr. George Zaidan in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, established the Zaidan Foundation in 2009 to have some of his grandfather’s historical novels translated into English and published.”
According to Dr. Boullata, the first of these novels, The Conquest of Andalusia (trans. Roger Allen), has just been published by the Zaidan Foundation.
The Conquest of Andalusia is, according to the press materials, a “fast-paced story, full of twists and turns, [which] unfolds as the Muslim armies in North Africa are poised to cross the Straits of Gibraltar and gain their first European foothold in what came to be called the land of al-Andalus. The Conquest of Andalusia is also the story of the battle for Florinda’s virtue and happiness….”
Dr. Boullata is also working on a translation of one of Zaidan’s novels, Al-‘Abbasa, Sister of al-Rashid, which will be published soon.
*It’s the King Fahd. I would just feel happier about writing “the Ibn Khaldun” or “the al-Mutanabbi” Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Or the Tahrir Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Maybe we could pass the hat.