The 2008 Arabic Booker Shortlist: Which of the 6 in Translation?

Looking at the 2009 Arabic Booker shortlist (in translation) makes one wonder: What of 2008?

Bahaa Taher’s Sunset Oasis, the winner of the inaugural Arabic Booker, became available in English in fall 2009 (from Scepter in the U.K. and and McClelland & Stewart in North America) and was amply discussed in U.K. and Canadian publications. I have reviewed it; so have a number of others. Most other English-language reviewers seemed more swept away by the book than I was.

I also interviewed the book’s translator, Humphrey Davies.

Mekkawi Said’s Swan Song became available from AUC Press this winter, 2009. I should have a review of it coming out in Rain Taxi, for which reason I’m not supposed to breathe a word about it, yea or nay. Read the magazine, and all that.

As for May Menassa’s Walking in the Dust, an excerpt appeared in Banipal (and can be read online); perhaps Paula Haydar is working on a full translation?

English rights for Khaled Khalifa’s In Praise of Hatred have been sold to Transworld, a division of Random House. The book also will appear in Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch and Norwegian. I will have to scratch out more of the “whens” and “wheres.”

Jabbour Douaihy’s June Rain will appear soon in German, French, and Italian.  No mention of English.

As for Elias Farkouh’s The Land of Purgatory, the Raya agency has made no mention of rights in any language.