I am delighted to have discovered that AUC Press also thought that one good way to celebrate the “year of Naguib Mahfouz” would be to put out a re-translation of the Nobel Prize-winner’s work.

Midaq Alley (1947) was first translated by Trevor LeGassick and published in English in 1966. The new translation, which is being completed by Humphrey Davies, is scheduled for release this November, a month before what would’ve been Mahfouz’s 100th birthday.

Even if there had not been numerous complaints about variable quality in the Mahfouz translations (as indeed there have), re-translation is still an excellent way to re-discover an author and a novel. AUCP is also bringing out a centennial library and The Wisdom of Naguib Mahfouz, ed. Aleya Serour.

Five other AUCP books to look forward to this fall:

Judgment Day, by Rasha al-Ameer, trans. Jonathan Wright.

Jonathan Wright: “The language is unashamedly literary and classical, almost pre-modern…. But fortunately, beneath the language, there is a powerful story of love and discovery. I hope I have managed to convey some of the almost pedantic precision of the original without alienating potential readers. Proust and Jane Austen kept coming to mind.”

A Tunisian Tale, by Hassouna Mosbahi, trans. Max Weiss.

According to the AUC Press blurb: “After ne’er-do-wells spread rumors about a widowed mother’s weak moral character among the people of a slum on the outskirts of Tunis that festers with migrants who have come to the metropolis from the heartland in search of a better life, her twenty-year-old son takes matters into his own hands and commits an unspeakable crime.”

Dr. Weiss also recently translated Solo Piano Music by International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF)-shortlisted Fawwaz Haddad; I believe that’s still in search of a publisher.

Time of White Horses, by Ibrahim Nasrallah, trans. Nancy Roberts

This book was shortlisted for the 2009 IPAF, and organizers describe it thus: “Time of White Horses charts the history of three generations of a Palestinian family in a small village, Jordanian author Ibrahim Nasrallah’s saga is a descendant of a genre introduced in Arabic fiction by Naguib Mahfouz’s famous Cairo Trilogy. Through the lives of the members of this family, Nasrallah depicts the tragedy of a whole nation under changing historical circumstances: the Ottoman rule, the British Mandate and the Nakba (the catastrophe of the Jewish occupation of Palestinian land in 1948) to the expulsion of the Palestinians and finally the post-Nakba era.”

Brooklyn Heights, Miral al-Tahawy, trans. Samah Selim

Al-Tahawy’s 2011 IPAF-shortlisted novel, which also won the 2010 Naguib Mahfouz Medal, was translated by the award-winning Samah Selim and should be out in November.

According to blogger Ismail Fayyed: “Brooklyn Heights (the story itself) is memorable not only for giving voice to marginal, oppressed, sometimes silent female characters but for evoking a vanishing world of those forced to leave their homeland and is filled with ‘winds of longing’ and distinctive scents.”

The Palm House, Tarek Eltayeb, trans. Kareem James Abu-Zeid

Egyptian writer Ahmed Khalifa enjoyed Eltayeb’s first novel, Cities Without Palms, which was also translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid. But he enjoyed The Palm House much more: “With The Palm House, which, according to the author, took seven years to complete, Eltayeb proves himself to be one of the most talented storytellers to come out of Egypt and the Arab world.”

Khalifa adds: “This is a marvelous novel about being a stranger in a strange land, and about lonely people trying to find comfort in each other. But, above all, this is a novel about storytelling, its magic, and its power to heal. Unmissable.”

Other 2011 AUCP publishing notes:

Suzanne Mubarak’s memoir about reading to her grandson has been retitled. (You know, it’s no longer a “first lady’s memoir.”)

Mai Khaled’s book, The Magic of Turquoise, is also coming out this fall, translated by our friend Marwa Elnaggar. Marwa will have to tell us more about the book.

William Hutchins also has been working on a translation of the novel Yusuf’s Picture by Najm Wali, which was scheduled out from AUC Press this fall.

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