British Khoury Fans Will See /As Though She Were Sleeping/ Sooner than Americans

And again, the dueling translations.

Just as when Elias Khoury’s terrifying, wonderful, critically acclaimed Yalo came out in English (with Peter Theroux doing the Archipelago translation and Humphrey Davies the Quercus translation), his As Though She Were Sleeping will have different translators on different sides of the Atlantic.

Quercus is again using Humphrey Davies (who certainly did amazing work with Yalo) and Archipelago, for their part, has Marilyn Booth (trans. The Tiller of Waters, The Open Door, Thieves in Retirement).

Archipelago—although you surely already know—is a small U.S. publishing house with a powerfully high quality lineup that includes Khoury, Mahmoud Darwish, and books like Gerbrand Bakker’s The Twin. Quercus was a small house until quite recently, when having Stieg Larsson’s books turned them into a much bigger project.

Anyhow, what of As Though She Were Sleeping? It seems to be a book loved by critics (and bibliophiles) but not as much by casual readers, as evidenced by the reviews on GoodReads. (Although you’ll see that Yasmina Jraisatti, of Raya Agency, gave the book four stars.)

For dust-jacket readers, the blurb from Archipelago:

As Though She Were Sleeping is an homage to dreaming, “the only way of escaping oppression, be it familial, religious, or political.” Milia’s response to her new husband and to the Middle East of 1947 is to close her eyes and float into parallel worlds where identities and faces shift, and where she can converse with the dead and foresee the future. As the novel progresses Milia’s dreams become more navigable than the strange and obstinate “reality” she finds herself in.

In Diwan al-Arab,  Adel al-Usta wonders if Khoury, in As Though She Were Sleeping, wins the critics and loses the readers. But since visitors to ArabLit are clearly critical readers, readers in search of a literary adventure and not just the next X, surely you’ll want to see As Though She Were Sleeping from Quercus in June 2011 and from Archipelago in February 2012.