4 to Watch for in January 2018: Featured Translations from Arabic

ArabLit editors are roving the internet in search of 2018 releases. Thus far, we’ve located 18 scheduled for winter and spring. Four from January:

Concerto in al-Quds, by Adonis, translated by Khaled Mattawa (January 3, Yale University Press)

The publisher writes: “At the age of eighty-six, Adonis, an Arabic poet with Syrian origins, a critic, an essayist, and a devoted secularist, has come out of retirement to pen an extended, innovative poem on Jerusalem/Al-Quds.”

It’s translated by Khaled Mattawa, who also brought Adonis: Selected Poems into English for Yale University Press. From the collection, you can read “Celebrating Childhood” at the Poetry Foundation.

The first poem, “Heavenly Summary,” opens: “Up there, up above,/ look at her dangling from the sky’s throat./ Look at her fenced with the eyelashes of angels.”

Frankenstein in Baghdad, by Ahmed Saadawi, translated by Jonathan Wright (January 23, Penguin Random)

Winner of the 2014 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, the English-language release of Frankenstein in Baghdad has been timed with the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein. 

Review: A Golden Piece of Shit: On Morality and War

Interview: ‘The Novel Implicitly Questions This Concept of Salvation’

Read an excerpt at Penguin Random, which begins:

The explosion took place two minutes after Elishva, the old woman known as Umm Daniel, or Daniel’s mother, boarded the bus. Everyone on the bus turned around to see what had happened. They watched in shock as a ball of smoke rose, dark and black, beyond the crowds, from the car park near Tayaran Square in the center of Baghdad. Young people raced to the scene of the explosion, and cars collided into each other or into the median. The drivers were frightened and confused: they were assaulted by the sound of car horns and of people screaming and shouting.

The UK and Australian edition is forthcoming in February from Oneworld.

Banthologyed. Sarah Cleave, various translators (January 27, Comma Press)

This seven-story collection features wide-ranging work around borders and boundaries by: Anoud, Wajdi al-Ahdal, Ubah Cristina Ali Farah, Najwa Bin Shatwan, Rania Mamoun, Fereshteh Molavi, and Zaher Omareen.

From the publisher:

In January 2017, President Trump signed an executive order banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – from entering the United States, effectively slamming the door on refugees seeking safety and tearing families apart. Mass protests followed, and although the order has since been blocked, amended and challenged by judges, it still stands as one of the most discriminatory laws to be passed in the US in modern times.

Banthology brings together specially commissioned stories from the original seven ‘banned nations’. Covering a range of approaches – from satire, to allegory, to literary realism – it explores the emotional and personal impact of all restrictions on movement, and offers a platform to voices the White House would rather remained silent.

North American edition forthcoming from Deep Vellum in March.

The Stillbornby Arwa Salih, translated by Samah Selim (January, Seagull Books)

From the publisher:

Arwa Salih was a member of the political bureau of the Egyptian Communist Workers Party, which was founded in the wake of the Arab–Israeli War and the Egyptian student movement of the early 1970s. Written more than a decade after Salih quit the party and left political life—and published shortly after she committed suicide—the book offers a poignant look at, and reckoning with, the Marxism of her generation and the role of militant intellectuals in the tragic failure of both the national liberation project and the communist project in Egypt. The powerful critique in The Stillborn speaks not only to and about Salih’s own generation of left activists but also to broader, still salient dilemmas of revolutionary politics throughout the developing world in the postcolonial era.

Also read: Translator Samah Selim on Being Haunted by the Author’s Ghost

Also in January:

The second week of January, Banipal Magazine will announce the winner of the Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation.

On January 17, the International Prize for Arabic Fiction organizers will announce the prize’s 2018 longlist.

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