If You’re in London: Debate the Future of Arabic-English Translation

A fairly small crowd — including translators Raphael Cohen, Humphrey Davies, Nariman Youssef, and translator/editor Neil Hewison — came to Cairo’s British Council HQ last September to debate the future of Arabic-English translation, and what we could do to better it.

This presentation and debate came on the heels of the release of a report, by Literature Across Frontiers’ Alexandra Buchler and translator/scholar Alice Guthrie, about Arabic-English translation in the UK from 1990-2010. (You can download a copy of the report here.) The report examines trends in Arabic-English  translation and features interviews with a number of professional translators.

The UK presentation and debate, set for Feb 2, will include a presentation by Guthrie and Buchler, as it did in Cairo. But it will also be followed by a panel debate and Q&A that will be chaired by translators Marilyn Booth (whose latest work is a translation of As Though She Were Sleeping, by Elias Khoury) and Peter Clark (who has recently worked with the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and edited the first Nadwa collection). 

The UK debate, I imagine, will be a bit livelier than the one we had in Cairo. And perhaps with more pointed questions and disagreements. That is: We were far too dull and congenial. This (should) be more fun.

If you’re interested in attending, the presentation and debate will be held at the Free Word Centre in London, at 60 Farringdon Road. It’s set to start at 6:30 p.m., and refreshments will be served.  More details on the LAF calendar.

About September’s debate:

Should Egypt pay to promote its authors abroad?

A few of the issues raised in the report:

Should Arabic-English Translators Be Native Speakers of Arabic? Of English?

Which Books ‘Should’ Be Translated from Arabic to English?

Arab Novels: Not as Good as the Russians, Latin Americans?

‘But We Don’t Know Who Else to Ask!’: Lit Festivals & Arab Writers

‘Go and Look Properly’ for the Best of Arabic Fiction