4 ‘PEN Translates’ Awards Go To Arabic Titles

The 2018 PEN Translates Awards has honored a ground-breakingly large number of Arabic titles among its eighteen winners:

Four of eighteen winning books are being translated from Arabic. They are:

The Book of Cairo edited by Raph Cormack. Comma Press, January 2019. Translated from Arabic by Raphael Cohen, Basma Ghalayini, Thoraya al-Rayyes, Elisabeth Jaquette, Andrew Leber, Raph Cormack, Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, Kareem James Abu Zeid, Yasmine Seale, Adam Talib. Country of origin: Egypt

My Name is Adam by Elias Khoury, translated from Arabic by Humphrey Davies. Maclehose Press, November 2018. Country of origin: Lebanon

Thirteen Months of Sunrise by Rania Mamoun, translated from Arabic by Elisabeth Jacquette. Comma Press, April 2019. Country of origin: Sudan

The Frightened Ones by Dima Wannous, translated from Arabic by Elisabeth Jacquette. Harvill Secker, April 2019. Country of origin: Syria

This isn’t the first PEN award for Thirteen Months of Sunrise. Last year, Jaquette became only the third Arabic-English translator in the fourteen-year history of the PEN/Heim grant — which backs translation — to win support.

Also for the first time this year, the majority of winning titles are by women, including, PEN notes in their press release, “the first female novelist from Cape Verde to be translated into English.”

Also Sarah Ardizzone, co-chair of the Writers in Translation committee, said:

Diversity of talent, consensus of agreement: the selection panel was united in welcoming increased submissions from the Arab-speaking world, and in recognising the bold risk-taking of small independent publishers and their imaginative strategies to connect with new readers.

The winning books are selected “on the basis of outstanding literary quality, strength of the publishing project, and contribution to literary diversity in the UK.”