For many years, the field of Arabic-English translation was dominated by a very few. Denys Johnson-Davies, who Edward Said called “the leading Arabic-English translator of our times,” was the first professional Arabic-English translator. For several decades, he was virtually the only literary-minded author who turned Arabic books into English.
“I was a sort of dictator of the field,” Johnson-Davies said in a recent interview with AUC Press. “Which I enjoyed, actually.”
Now, there are many more at work translating between the two languages. Even more are studying the two literatures as well as the art and theory of translation. This year’s Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize aims to celebrate the best of this next generation.
With the help of Banipal magazine, Egyptian author Mansoura Ezz Eldin was selected to represent the prize. Entrants must translate a four-page story entitled Layl Qouti by the award-winning young author. Ezz Eldin was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2010 (for her novel Beyond Paradise) and was also chosen as one of the Beirut39, a contest that recognized 39 up-and-coming Arab authors under 40. Keep reading.