Roger Allen Accepts Banipal Prize in London for Translating ‘A Muslim Suicide’

Last night, Roger Allen was awarded the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for his translation of A Muslim Suicide by Bensalem Himmich. ArabLit’s Amira Abd El-Khalek was there:

By Amira Abd El-Khalek

Saif Ghobash RAllenThe 2012 Banipal translation prize, which was announced on Jan. 16, was presented to Allen in a ceremony at the King’s Place in London. The prize, established by the Banipal Trust and sponsored by Omar Saif Ghobash, was first awarded in 2006. This year’s judges — Fadhil al-Azzawi, Esther Freud, Ruth Padel, and Dr. John Peate — honored Allen, stating, “Roger Allen succeeded with his wonderful style not only in turning Himmich’s text into brilliant English prose, but also in creating a real piece of literature.”

Humphrey Davies was also commended for his translation of Mourid Barghouti’s I was Born There I was Born Here. Unfortunately, he was not able to attend the ceremony.

Other literary translation awards presented during the ceremony were:

The John Florio Prize for translation from the Italian
The Calouste Gulbenkian Prize for translation from the Portuguese
The Hellenic Foundation for Culture Translation Prize for translation from the Modern Greek
The Schlegel-Tieck Prize for translation from the German
The Scott Moncrieff Prize for translation from the French
The Bernard Shaw Prize for translation from the Swedish
The Premio Valle Inclán for translation from the Spanish

The award ceremony was followed by the annual Sebald Lecture, delivered by prolific author and former literary translator Boris Akunin. It was entitled, “Paradise Lost: Confessions of an Apostate Translator.” In a humorous and captivating lecture, Akunin – who has been compared variously to Gogol, Tolstoy and Arthur Conan Doyle – talked about his experience as a literary translator and personal and political influences that shaped his life. He also shared tips on writing that he learnt from the great Japanese author, Yukio Mishima.

Roger Allen will give a masterclass on Arabic literary translation at the Arab British Centre today. He will also be in conversation with Bensalem Himmich, author of A Muslim Suicide, chaired by Paul Starkey, tonight at the Mosaic Rooms at 7 p.m.

More on A Muslim Suicide:

About the award

About the book

More on Akunin’s lecture:

On “Translating Between the Lines

On the TLS blog

Amira Abd El-Khalek studied English literature and anthropology in Egypt and the UK. She has held academic positions at Ain Shams University and the American University in Cairo and has worked in national and international NGOs. She is an avid reader in English and Arabic, enjoys writing and is passionate about films.