19 Literary Translations from Arabic Coming This Fall

A wide range of literary works, translated from Arabic to English, are forthcoming this fall. The National carried an overview, by ArabLit editor M. Lynx Qualey, but here we have the full list.

Also: Seven of the nineteen — an unusually high percentage — are works by exclusively by women or include a significant amount of writing by women.

September 2017

I Don’t Want This Poem to End, by Mahmoud Darwish, tr. Mohamed Shaheen, introduction by Elias Khoury (Interlink)

A collection of the iconic Palestinian poet’s early and late poems, built around what’s believed to be his final work, “I Don’t Want This Poem to End.” With a moving introduction by Lebanese novelist and Darwish friend Elias Khoury.

Heaven on Earth, by Fadi Zaghmout, tr. Sawad Hussain (Signal 8 Press)

“The year: sometime in the 2090s. The location: Jordan. Aging is reversible thanks to major advances in bioscience and nanotechnology. But in a world where eternal youth has become a reality, complications arise.”

All the Battles, Ma’n Abu Taleb, tr. Robin Moger (Hoopoe Fiction)

A lean, tough novel about sport, social class, and identity. From the publisher: “When he first showed up at Captain Ali’s run-down boxing club, Saed was mocked for his bourgeois manners then humiliated in the ring. After barely a year of training, he has been consumed by the world of boxing and tipped for greatness.”

Bled Dry, by Abdelilah Hamdouchi, tr. Benjamin Smith (Hoopoe Fiction)

The first in accomplished Moroccan detective novelist Abdelilah Hamdouchi’s new “Detective Hanash” series. From the publisher: “When an ill-fated, young prostitute and her lover are killed in a gruesome double murder, seasoned investigator Detective Hanash is called in. The case draws him and his team into the poverty of Casablanca’s slums, blighted by criminality, religious extremism, and despair.”

Suslov’s Daughter, by Habib Abdulrab Sarori, tr. Elisabeth Jaquette (Darf Publishing)

“As a young man growing up under communism in South Yemen, Imran finds himself drawn to Hawiya, the daughter of a high-ranking official in the ruling Marxist party. He departs Aden, the seaport city of his childhood, to study literature in Paris, hoping to ‘see the sunset of capitalism with his own eyes.’ Years later he returns to Yemen and meets Hawiya again – only to find that she is now a niqab-wearing Salafist, calling on people to join the conservative Islamist movement.”

October 2017

A Tree Whose Name I Don’t Know, by Golan Haji, tr. Haji & Stephen Watts (A Midsummer Night’s Press)

“In Golan Haji’s poems and prose-poems, fable and myth are incised into history and contemporanaeity, al-Ma’arri’s verses are re-inscribed upon the Odyssey, made to reflect on the ongoing tragedy of the Kurdish people, and of each individual exile. A young Syrian poet now living in France, Haji, polyglot and humanist, is a luminous arrival for world poetry. Is there a word for ‘saudade’ in Arabic? His poems, in Stephen Watts’ fine-honed translations, are imbued with it.”—Marilyn Hacker

Gaza Weddings, by Ibrahim Nasrallah, translated by Nancy Roberts (Hoopoe Fiction)

“Twin sisters Randa and Lamis live in the besieged Gaza Strip. Inseparable to the point that even their mother cannot tell them apart, they grow up surrounded by the random carnage that characterizes life under occupation.”

Cigarette Number Seven, by Donia Kamal, translated by Nariman Youssef (Hoopoe Fiction)

“As a child, Nadia was left her with her grandparents in Egypt, while her mother sought work in the Gulf. Decades later, she looks back on her fragmented childhood from an uncertain present: it is 2011 and the streets have erupted in an unexpected revolution. Her activist father, the sole anchor in her life, encourages her to be a part of the protests and so Nadia joins the sit-in at Tahrir Square.”

Banthology: 7 Stories from 7 Countries, ed. Sarah Cleave (Comma Press)

Stories from the nations put under Donald Trump’s travel ban, including by Anoud (Iraq), Wajdi al-Ahdal (Yemen), Najwa Bin Shatwan (Libya), Rania Mamoun (Sudan), and Zaher Omareen (Syria).

Adrenalin, Ghayath Almadhoun, tr. Catherine Cobham (Action Books)

Poetry by acclaimed Syrian poet and poet-filmmaker Ghayath Almadhoun in translation by the also-acclaimed Catherine Cobham. From the collection: “Her grief fell from the balcony and broke into pieces, so she needed a new grief. When I went with her to the market the prices were unreal, so I advised her to buy a used grief. We found one in excellent condition although it was a bit big. As the vendor told us, it belonged to a young poet who had killed himself the previous summer.”

Apartment in Bab El Louk, by Donia Maher, art by Ganzeer and Ahmed Nady, tr. Elisabeth Jaquette (Darf Publishing)

From Ganzeer in a Q&A with ArabLit: “I would never attempt to pass “The Apartment in Bab El-Louk” as a graphic novel or anything remotely close to it. Just because there are drawings, doesn’t make it a comic book or graphic novel. The sequentiality that would exist on a singular page of your typical graphic novel is nowhere to be seen in this particular book, save for the very last nine pages illustrated by Ahmad Nady. An entire story told in full-page splashes just isn’t a graphic novel. The narration is a little bit more designy, making the book more of a visual album of sorts. Or as you eloquently put it: ‘a fabulous noir poem.'”

Farewell, Damascus, by Ghada Samman, tr. Nancy Roberts (Darf Publishing)

“Farewell Damascus, set in the city during the early 1960s, is both a paean to a beloved homeland and an ode to human dignity. Armed with her customary humor, pathos, and knack for suspense, Ghada Samman fearlessly tackles issues that roil societies across the globe to this day.”

November 2017

Using Life, by Ahmed Naji & Ayman Zorkany, tr. Benjamin Koerber (University of Texas Press)

If you haven’t heard about this graphic novel hybrid about an apocalyptic contemporary Cairo — an excerpt of which affected a reader’s blood pressure and got author Ahmed Naji a two-year prison sentence and travel ban — then you haven’t been paying attention. Naji won the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award after his imprisonment on charges of “violating public morals” with this dystopian novel of life in Cairo.

December 2017

The Stillborn: Notebooks of a Woman from the Student-Movement Generation in Egypt, by Arwa Salih, trans. Samah Selim (Seagull Books)

The long-awaited translation of Arwa Salih’s memoir of the 1970s student movement in Cairo, published in 1997, just before her suicide. Translated by the multi-award-winning Samah Selim.

Ascension to Death, by Mamdouh Azzam, tr Max Weiss (Haus Books)

Ascension to Death, which launches Haus Publishing’s new Modern Arabic Classics series, is the first work of acclaimed Syrian writer Mamdouh Azzam to be published in English. Chosen by And Other Stories as part of the Arabic Reading Group; excerpts and more at the AOS website.

We Buried the Past, by Abdelkrim Ghallab, tr Roger Allen (Haus Books)

“Abdelkrim Ghallab’s postcolonial We Buried the Past, originally published in 1966, was the first breakthrough Moroccan novel written in Arabic instead of French. Newly translated into English, this edition brings Ghallab’s most widely read and lauded work to a new audience.”

Arabian Satire: Poetry from the 18th-century Najd, by Hmedan al-Shwe’ir, ed-tr Marcel Kurpershoek (Library of Arabic Literature)

“This lively volume collects poems by Hmedan al-Shwe’ir, who lived in Najd in the Arabian Peninsula shortly before the hegemony of the Wahhabi movement in the early 18th century. A master of satire known for his ribald humor, self-deprecation, and invective verse (hija), Hmedan was acerbic in his criticisms of society and its morals, voiced in in a poetic idiom that is widely referred to as “Nabati,” here a mix of Najdi vernacular and archaic vocabulary and images dating back to the origins of Arabic poetry.”

The Tree Stump, by Samiha Khrais tr. Nesreen Akhtarkhavari (Michigan State University Press)

“One of the most prominent Arabic novels to document the intricate details of the revolt of the Arabs against the Turks and their collaboration with the English, The Tree Stumpbrings to life a critical period of history that includes key players such as King Faisal, Odeh  Abu Tayeh , and T. E. Lawrence. It places the reader in the heart of that remarkable era with accuracy, authenticity, and an added human dimension that introduces the Arabian Desert people, traditions, and way of life.”

How to Mend: On Motherhood and Its Ghosts, by Iman Mersal, tr. Robin Moger (Kayfa Ta)

“In How to Mend: Motherhood and Its Ghosts, the author moves through unfamiliar spaces – internal, fluid and complex. Her voice changes, moving in and out of focus, back and forth in time, and across different physical spaces and cultural spaces. The strokes of the book are fine and interlacing, moving between the lyrical, diaristic, poetic and academic. They are quite serious and burdened steps towards an inner-space that is often neglected and dismissed from mainstream writings on motherhood.”