The Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation has announced the 19 titles in contention for the 2016 prize:
Books must have been published in Arabic after the 1967 naksa (so no Library of Arabic Literature titles are eligible, for instance) and must be available for sale in the UK.
Since it’s Women in Translation Month, it’s necessary to mention the gender balance: four titles by women and fifteen by men. Although the ranks of translators are far more balanced: eight women and ten men. Last year, there were twenty-five titles. Seven were by women writers.
The translators of year’s entries are: Kareem James Abu-Zeid, Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, Nesreen Akhtarkhavari and Anthony A Lee, Roger Allen, T M Aplin, Charis Bredin and Emily Danby, Nicole Fares, Russell Harris, Michelle Hartman, William M Hutchins (with three titles), Abdulwahid Lu‘lu‘a, Melanie Magidow, Nancy Roberts, Jonathan Smolin, Karim Traboulsi, and Jonathan Wright (with two).
Abu-Zeid, Wright, and Hartman have previous “commended” or “runner-up” titles from the prize, while Allen won the prize in 2012 and Wright and Hutchins were co-winners in 2013. Off-hand, I would put my money on Abu-Zeid’s fluid translation of Jaber’s Confessions, although they all have their merits.
The full list:
Confessions by Rabee Jaber, translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid (New Directions, USA)
The Bride of Amman by Fadi Zaghmout , translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp (Signal 8 Press, Hong Kong)
Desert Sorrows by Tayseer al-Sboul, translated by Nesreen Akhtarkhavari andAnthony A Lee (Michigan State University Press, USA)
My Torturess by Bensalem Himmich, translated by Roger Allen (Syracuse University Press, USA)
Hurma by Ali al-Muqri, translated by T M Aplin (Darf Publishers, UK)
Ebola ’76 by Amir Tag Elsir, translated by Charis Bredin and Emily Danby (Darf Publishers, UK)
32 by Sahar Mandour, translated by Nicole Fares (Syracuse University Press, USA)
The Automobile Club of Egypt by Alaa Al Aswany, translated by Russell Harris(Canongate, UK)
Ali and his Russian Mother by Alexandra Chreiteh, translated by Michelle Hartman(Interlink Publishing, USA)
Telepathy by Amir Tag Elsir, translated by William M Hutchins (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, Qatar)
The Scarecrow by Ibrahim al-Koni, translated by William M Hutchins (CMES, University of Texas at Austin, USA)
A Portal in Space by Mahmoud Saeed, translated by William M Hutchins (CMES, University of Texas at Austin, USA)
All Faces but Mine by Samih al-Qasim, translated by Abdulwahid Lu‘lu‘a (Syracuse University Press, USA)
Mortal Designs by Reem Bassouiney, translated by Melanie Magidow (AUC Press, Egypt/USA)
The Dust of Promises by Ahlem Mostaghanemi, translated by Nancy Roberts (Bloomsbury Publishing, UK)
Whitefly by Abdelilah Hamdouchi, translated by Jonathan Smolin (Hoopoe Fiction, Egypt/USA)
The Holy Sail by Abdulaziz al-Mahmoud, translated by Karim Traboulsi (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, Qatar)
The Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi, translated by Jonathan Wright (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, Qatar)
The Televangelist by Ibrahim Essa, translated by Jonathan Wright (Hoopoe Fiction, Egypt/USA)
The prize is an annual award of £3,000, made to the translator. The four judges for 2016 are last year’s winner Paul Starkey (Chair); Zahia Smail Salhi, professor of Arabic; Lucy Popescu, writer and journalist; and Bill Swainson, literary consultant and publisher. They will decide the winner in December at a meeting in the offices of the Society of Authors, convened by Paula Johnson, the Administrator of Prize.