In the Running for the 2015 Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation

There are twenty-five translators and twenty-nine books in the running for the 2015 Banipal Prize for Arabic Literarary Translation, a prize that celebrates Arabic literature published in English translation and available for sale in the UK:

trust_lhs_image_twoThe other major prize focused on Arabic literature in translation is the Arkansas prize, which considers only unpublished manuscripts.

The annual Banipal award is for £3,000 and can go to any “creative Arabic work of literary merit published after, or during, the year 1967 and first published in English translation in the year prior to the award.” Prize organizers call 1967 a “watershed” year for Arabic literature.

There are many impressive translational achievements on the 2015 list of submissions, including Hosam Aboul-Ela’s translation of Stealth, by Sonallah Ibrahim, which should finally get some attention; Jonathan Wright’s beautiful translation of Land of No Rain, by Amjad Nasser; Robin Moger’s translation of the rollicking Women of Karantina, by Nael Eltoukhy; and John Verlenden and Ferial Ghazoul’s rich translation of The Chronicles of Majnun Layla and Selected Poems by Qassim Haddad.

There are also some wonderful must-read books, including Diary of a Jewish Muslim, Sinalcol, African Titanics, Oh, Salaam! and others. Although the prize doesn’t do a shortlist before announcing its winner and runners-up, this year would certainly warrant it.

The prize relies on submissions, although the judges can call in additional books. If Amjad Nasser’s Petra fits the criteria of being for sale in the UK, this year’s judges should also call in this world-changing small book, translated by the Palestinian-American poet Fady Joudah.

Nearly a quarter of the submitted titles are by women, which is on the high side for literature in translation, which generally seems to under-represent women writers.

The prize is now in its tenth year.

The Full List:

Hosam Abuol-Ela
Stealth, by Sonallah Ibrahim

Marilyn Booth
The Penguin’s Song, by Hassan Daoud

Charis Bredon
African Titanics, by Abu Bakr Khaal

Raphael Cohen
Butterfly Wings, by Mohamed Salmawy

C.J. Collins
Fullblood Arabian, by Osama Alomar

Humphrey Davies
The Broken Mirrors: Sinalcol, by Elias Khoury

Sarah Enany
Diary of a Jewish Muslim, by Kamal Ruhayyim

Paula Haydar and Nadine Sinno
Who’s Afraid of Meryl Streep? by Rashid al-Daif

William M. Hutchins
French Perfume, by Amir Tag Elsir

Kareem James Abu-Zeid
Nothing More to Lose, by Najwan Darwish
The Iraqi Nights, by Dunya Mikhail

Kay Heikkenen
The Woman from Tantoura, by Radwa Ashour

Luke Leafgren
Dates on my Fingers, by Muhsin al-Ramli
Oh, Salaam! by Najwa Barakat

Robin Moger
Where Pigeons Don’t Fly, by Youssef al-Mohaimeed
Women of Karantina, by Nael Eltoukhy
The Crocodiles, by Youssef Rakha

Nancy Roberts
Chaos of the Senses, by Ahlem Mosteghanemi
Days of Ignorance, by Laila Aljohani
Lanterns of the King of Galilee, Ibrahim Nasrallah

Barbara Romaine
Blue Lorries, by Radwa Ashour

Chip Rossetti
Beirut, Beirut, by Sonallah Ibrahim

Paul Starkey
The Book of the Sultan’s Seal, by Youssef Rakha

Mbarek Sryfi and Roger Allen
Monarch of the Square, short stories by Mohamed Zafzaf

John Verlenden and Ferial Ghazoul
The Chronicles of Majnun Layla and Selected Poems by Qassim Haddad

Farouk Abdel Wahab
Rain Over Baghdad, by Hala El Badry

Jonathan Wright
Land of No Rain, by Amjad Nasser
Temple Bar, by Bahaa Abdelmeguid

Mona Zaki
Chewing Gum, by Mansour Bushnaf

Last year, the prize went to Iraqi author Sinan Antoon for his translation of his own novel, The Corpse Washer, with a commendation for Paula Haydar’s translation of Jabbour Douaihy’s June Rain.

Categories: Banipal, other literary prizes, translation

4 replies


  1.  Blue Lorries, a strong contender for the Banipal Prize of Arabic Literary Translation | Arabic Literature (in English)
  2. In the Running for the 2015 Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation
  3. In the Running for the 2015 Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation | Arabic Literature (in English) | WiseNotes
  4. ‘Oh, Salaam!’: ‘Easy and Crude’ Is What Makes This an ‘Entertaining, Intelligent’ Novel | Arabic Literature (in English)
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