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:
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:
Stealth, by Sonallah Ibrahim
The Penguin’s Song, by Hassan Daoud
African Titanics, by Abu Bakr Khaal
Butterfly Wings, by Mohamed Salmawy
Fullblood Arabian, by Osama Alomar
The Broken Mirrors: Sinalcol, by Elias Khoury
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
The Woman from Tantoura, by Radwa Ashour
Dates on my Fingers, by Muhsin al-Ramli
Oh, Salaam! by Najwa Barakat
Where Pigeons Don’t Fly, by Youssef al-Mohaimeed
Women of Karantina, by Nael Eltoukhy
The Crocodiles, by Youssef Rakha
Chaos of the Senses, by Ahlem Mosteghanemi
Days of Ignorance, by Laila Aljohani
Lanterns of the King of Galilee, Ibrahim Nasrallah
Blue Lorries, by Radwa Ashour
Beirut, Beirut, by Sonallah Ibrahim
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
Land of No Rain, by Amjad Nasser
Temple Bar, by Bahaa Abdelmeguid
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.