Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp Shortlisted for £10,000 Arts Foundation Award for Translating Modern Arabic Fiction

The four-strong shortlist for the £10,000 Arts Foundation Award for Literary Translation is an all-woman lineup:

f1c4e3fc-33ee-4e3d-9b73-29e50fd4dacfThe four translators shortlisted for the award, which calls in nominations from literary experts “across the translation genre,” are Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, Rosalind Harvey, Sophie Hughes, and Deborah Smith.

Kemp is a multi-lingual translator, but she was noted by judges for her focus on contemporary Arabic literature, particularly her “translation of the controversial Bride of Amman by Fadi Zaghmout (Signal 8 Press, 2015),” which was praised for its “faithfulness to the Levantine dialect[.]” Kemp, however, said that she prefers to emphasize that “it’s a groundbreaking feminist and civil rights narrative representing LGBT and women’s sexual freedoms and body rights…in a positive light.”

The judges — Paul Blezard, Amanda Hopkinson, and Meike Ziergovel — noted in a prepared statement that each finalist had “strategically selected their language of translation and was to some extent self-taught.”

According to the release:

The £10,000 award is not a commission but to be used to pay for living and working expenses, allowing the artist, who has to show a track record in the art form, breathing space in order to further their practice. Over the past 23 years the Foundation has given over £1.6m to support artists from all areas of the arts.

The recipient of the award will be announced January 28 in London, alongside other grants.