Friday Finds: Hoda Barakat and ‘Snow’

I believe translator Marilyn Booth is still looking for the right publisher to bring out Man Booker International finalist Hoda Barakat’s The Kingdom of This Earth in English:

Barakat’s only untranslated novel, The Kingdom of This Earth is represented by Yasmina Jraissati of Raya Agency and follows the lives of characters in Bsharri, a small Maronite community in Mount Lebanon, from the beginning of the twentieth century until the eve of the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990).

In the latest edition of The White ReviewMarilyn Booth has translated a scene “occurring very early in the novel,” that “precedes a tragedy that will mark the family at the centre of the story, whose history of village pre-eminence puts them at the centre of local rivalries around class, land ownership, water rights, and gender politics. The ancestral past remains part of the present, as the children of Muzawwaq struggle to make their future in a society of close ties and deep rifts.”

Booth’s sharp-edged translation begins:

A shower of wet snow. The snowflakes were beginning to stick, forming white patches that spread and thickened across the terrain. The horizon line between the greyness of the skies and the white ground was blurred now.

The bitter edge of the blustery cold softened as the fog dropped over the land, thick as a felt saddle blanket. The mountain paths and ravines were no longer distinguishable, making it impossible to guess how much distance remained ahead. Features of the landscape known popularly as the Frenchmen’s Chamber, Deaf-mute’s Crevice, St Severin’s Elbow, the Cross of the Sacred Heart, had all vanished. After Patriarch’s Point the entire expanse of these heights was submerged in the sour gummy milk. Overhead, winds whirling and pounding as though powerful water currents were ravining the skies changed course suddenly, a fierce onrush whipping across the ground to prevent him moving forward.

Keep reading the excerpt on The White Review.

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