Nihad Sirees’s ‘States of Passion,’ Sherko Bekas’s ‘Butterfly Valley’ Wins PEN Translates Awards on ‘Increasingly Adventurous’ List

Yesterday, English PEN announced the latest round of PEN Translates awards, which includes a magic 16 books from 15 countries and 14 languages:

The title translated from the Arabic is Syrian novelist Nihad Sirees’s States of Passion, brought to English by Max Weiss, who previously translated Sirees’s acclaimed Silence and the Roar, which was published in English in 2013. That book also received a PEN award for outstanding writing in translation.

States of Passion is currently scheduled to come out from Pushkin Press in August 2018. Originally published in 1998, t is set among the Aleppan banat ‘ishreh, women who formed intense social and sometimes sexual and would meet in groups to sing and dance.

Butterfly Valley, translated from the Sorani Kurdish by Choman Hardi. It’s set to come out from Arc Publications in March 2018. According to the publisher, the book, by the “Kurdish poet of the century,” is a “poetic response to the atrocities coitted by Saddam Hussein against the Kurdish people in the 1980s.”

In the awards announcement, Ros Schwartz, co-chair of the Writers in Translation committee, said, “We’re delighted to see that publishers are becoming increasingly adventurous in their choices, and that, interestingly, a number of projects are translator-led, underscoring the pro-active role translators can play in bringing books to publishers’ attention.’”

Other books of interest: Men Don’t Cry by French-Algerian author Faïza Guène, translated from French by Sarah Ardizzone, which is set to come out from Cassava Republic in September 2018. And The Desert and the Drum, by Mauritanian author Mbarek Ould Beyrouk, translated from French by Rachael McGill. The latter is set to come out from Dedalus in June 2018.

The full list can be found at English PEN’s website.

More about Sherko Bekas

News and interviews:

Sulaimani to honor its renowned poet Sherko Bekas with mosaic statue

An interview with Bekas

In English

Translated by Aro Latif Omar and Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse

More about Nihad Sirees

On ArabLit:

‘The Silence and the Roar’: On Life as a Silenced Writer  – Interview with Sarah Irving

Two Views of ‘Syria Speaks’: A Lens on Syria Through the Arts – By Sarah Irving and Nadia Ghanem

Author Nihad Sirees: ‘We Are Fighting the Formal History of a Regime’– By Nadia Ghanem

Syrian Novelist Nihad Sirees: ‘Creative Writing is Stalled Today’ – From Jadaliyya

‘When They Start to Think Only God is With Them, This is Bad’ – From interviews on CNN and BBC

Nihad Sirees on Writers in Syria: ‘What Should We Talk About?’ – By M. Lynx Qualey, from Qantara

Novelist Nihad Sirees on Aleppo Then, Aleppo Now, Aleppo Imagined – From PEN Atlas

On PW:

The review of The Silence and the Roar

An interview with Sirees – “Politics and Prose”

Sirees in English:

A translation of Sirees’s حالة شـغف (here called A Case of Passion, here A State of Passion) both times by Khaled al-Jbaili.

Daddy Dearest: Inside the Mind of Bashar al-Assad – on Daily Beast

Sirees’s twitter feed (@nihadsirees), often in English.

The Silence and the Roar:

The first three chapters of ”الصمت والصخب” on Sirees’s website.