Translate This Book!

Let me enthuse, for a moment, about this new feature on Quarterly Conversation. Of course, I am a sometimes-contributor to QC, so not completely pure in my applause, but you have to admit this is a list.

Scott will forgive me for grabbing two of the recommendations verbatim. Maybe. I think.


Kareem James Abu-Zeid: Rabee Jaber

“The single Arab author I believe to be the most in need of translation is the Lebanese novelist Rabee Jaber, born in 1972. He has published a host of novels in Arabic, several of which have been translated into French, yet none of which have been translated into English. He captures the life and spirit of the city of Beirut in unforgettable ways.”

Kareem James Abu-Zeid is a translator, most recently of Cities Without Palms by Sudanese author Tarek Eltayeb. (Cities Without Palms is commendable but not ground-shaking book out from AUC Press; I will look to see what Eltayeb does next.)

A tiny bit more about Renee Jaber from Banipal and the Hay Festival: He is two years older than me, and since 1992 he has published 16 novels. Good Lord.

Fady Joudah on “Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me” by Ghassan Zaqtan

“I’d like to see the poetry of the Palestinian Ghassan Zaqtan in English, especially his latest collection, Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me. He has been one of the leading Arab poets for the last decade or so, and has been hailed by Mahmoud Darwish as an important figure in Arab poetry. Zaqtan is also a recognized novelist, but perhaps that would come later, after we have come to appreciate more completely his first love, poetry. Also, the poetry of Syrian Muhammad Maghut and Egyptian Amal Donqul should be made more available in English (I don’t know of any book-length translations of their work); as well as the novels of Palestinian Ibrahim Nassrallah (especially “The Birds of Caution”).

Fady Joudah is Fady Joudah. And, well, could very well be translating “Like a Straw Bird it Follows Me” right now, since he’s finished a couple gorgeous Darwish translations.

More about Ghassan Zaqtan:

His poetry from PBS NewsHour.

Eight poems, translated by Fady Joudah (on Narrative).

More about Ibrahim Nassrallah

From The Guardian, reposted on Jordan Watch.

A list of his works, from Wikipedia.

AUC Press has brought out some Ibrahim Nasrallah, reviewed here in Banipal.

More about Amal Dunqul

A poem of hers, as well.

Speaking of Darwish, though, QC also has a fresh perspective on the Palestinian super-poet, called “Tracing Mahmoud Darwish’s Map.”