Arabic Lit (in Translation): Five to Look for in 2012

What’s forthcoming in translation is not nearly as well-publicized as the big English-language novels. But here are 5 to look for in 2012:

The Lady from Tel Aviv, by Rabai al-Madhoun, translated from the Arabic by Elliott Colla. The novel, which has been called out (in a good way) by English PEN, will be published by Telegram Books in 2012. The Lady was on the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) shortlist in 2010, and is, in PEN’s words, “a literary thriller, an exploration about lost family history and a meditation on the nature of fiction itself, it is, above all, a reflection on Palestinian identity and exile.”

Max Weiss says that Haus will bring out his translation of Syrian novelist Samar Yazbek’s memoir of the Syrian uprising “late in the spring/early in the summer.” You can read an excerpt of her memoirs on The Guardian, trans. Peter Theroux, and more from Yazbek on Jadaliyya.

Barbara Teresi emailed me that Muhsin al-Ramli’s Fingers Pass, which was longlisted for the IPAF and has been translated into Spanish, will be out next year in English.

Amir Tag al-Sir’s IPAF-shortlisted The Grub Hunter, trans. William Hutchins, will be published as part of Pearson’s African Writers Series next year.

Meantime, you can read an excerpt on Words Without Borders.

Magdy al-Shafee’s pioneering graphic novel Metro was yanked from Cairo stores in 2008 and its author and publisher were fined.

Dar Merit was slated to re-publish it this year in Arabic, although I don’t think that happened. In any case, it has been translated by Humphrey Davies, and will be published early 2012 by Metropolitan Books.

Also forthcoming:

I believe Youssef Zeidan’s Azazel, trans. Jonathan Wright (the winner of the 2009 IPAF) will be published by Atlantic Books in 2012; Wajdi al-Ahdal’s بلد بلا سماء (A Land Without Skye), trans. William Hutchins as A Land without Jasmine is due out in the fall of 2012 from Garnet. I think Jabbour Douaihy’s June Rain will be forthcoming from BQFP in 2012 as will Abdo Khal’s Throwing Sparks (trans. Maia Tabet and Michael K. Scott, although for Where the Rain Doesn’t Fall, by Amjad Nasser (and Radwa Ashour’s Farag and Sonallah Ibrahim’s Beirut, Beirut) you’ll have to wait for 2013.

NOTE: In case you didn’t see the update below, the 43rd Annual Cairo Book Fair (take 2) has been postponed until “early February.”