Kareem James Abu-Zeid on Why *You* Should Apply for a Banff Residency

Yes, he means you. Well, at least if you’re a translator in the Americas or translating an American work. Apologies to non-Americas-based translators of Arabic literature:

Photo credit: Kareem James Abu-Zeid
Photo credit: Kareem James Abu-Zeid

Translator Kareem James Abu-Zeid, who was runner-up for the Banipal prize for his translation of Cities Without Palmsspent three weeks last year at the Banff International Literary Translation Centre. There, he worked on a translation of Rabee Jaber’s The Mehlis Report.  According to Abu-Zeid, the experience “was incredible. In addition to vastly improving both my translating skills and the novel I was working on at the time (and leading to a new book contract), it was also pretty amazing to spend 3 weeks in the incredible beauty and nature of Banff with a really wonderful group of translators and writers.”

“The book is a much better read because fo that residency,” Abu-Zeid added.

The application deadline for next year’s residency is February 15, so you have time yet.

The application asks for:

  • Resume: for the translator and for the author being translated.
  • Project description: outlining what is being translated (e.g. full-length novel, selection of poems, or essays, etc.).
  • Translator statement: outlining what the translator hopes to accomplish during the program.
  • Joint residency request: where desired, a request for a joint residency with the author.
  • Writing sample: a 5–10 page sample of the translation, accompanied by the corresponding excerpt in the original language.
  • Publishing contract: or letter of intent from the publisher or theatre producer where applicable. (If none of these are available, please include a statement of permission from the author to undertake the translation).

A note about eligibility:

Applicants must have published at least one book-length literary translation or the equivalent thereof. Eligible projects include translations of works of fiction, literary non-fiction, poetry, children’s literature, oral tradition, and drama.

Priority is given to projects that have signed publishing contracts, or in the case of plays, promises of production. Although preference is usually given to new applicants, BILTC alumni are encouraged to re-apply, provided that at least one year has passed since they participated in the residency.