The shortlist for the 2018 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation is set to be announced in December; twenty books have been entered:
This is the thirteenth year of the translation prize, and this year there are 20 entries: two poetry collections, eighteen novels, and one graphic novel. Eligible translations — of fiction or poetry — were published between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018. Eligible publishers can be based anywhere in the world, but the works must be available for purchase in the UK.
This year’s four judges are: editor and translator Georgia de Chamberet; publisher and editor Pete Ayrton; novelist Fadia Faqir; and lecturer and translator Sophia Vasalou.
Of the twenty books that were entered for the prize, I have not seen Luay Abdul-llah’s Divine Names, translated by Judy Cumberbatch. Nor was I familiar with its publisher, Mira Publishing, which has published several other translated titles.
Just three of the twenty titles were by women writers.
There are a number of strong works in contention, with works by celebrated translators such as Marilyn Booth (with her beautiful translation of Hassan Daoud’s No Road to Paradise) and first-time translators such as Mandy McClure (with her excellent, luminous translation of Adel Esmat’s Tales of Yusuf Tadros).
Previous winners among this year’s nominees are Khaled Mattawa (who previously won for his translation of Adonis: Selected Poems), Paul Starkey (for his translation of Youssef Rakha’s brilliant Sultan’s Seal); Jonathan Wright (2016 winner for his translation of Saud Alsanousi’s The Bamboo Stalk); and Robin Moger (last year’s winner, for The Book of Safety by Yasser Abdel Hafez). Maia Tabet, Nancy Roberts, and Paula Haydar have all previously received commendations from the prize.
In Jerusalem and Other Poems by Tamim al-Barghouti, translated by Radwa Ashour, Tamim al-Barghouti, Ahdaf Soueif (Interlink Books)
No Road to Paradise by Hassan Daoud, translated by Marilyn Booth (Hoopoe Fiction, AUC Press)
Divine Names by Luay Abdul-Ilah, translated by Judy Cumberbatch (Mira Publishing)
Hend and the Soldiers by Badriah Albeshr, translated by Sanna Dhahir (CMES Publications, Univ Texas at Austin)
The American Quarter by Jabbour Douaihy, translated by Paula Haydar (Interlink Books)
The Apartment in Bab el-Louk by Donia Maher (with illustrations by Ganzeer and Ahmad Nady), translated by Elisabeth Jaquette (Darf Publishers)
Suslov’s Daughter by Habib Abdulrab Sarori, translated by Elisabeth Jaquette (Darf Publishers)
Using Life by Ahmed Naji, translated by Ben Koerber (CMES Publications, University of Texas at Austin)
The President’s Gardens by Muhsin Al-Ramli, translated by Luke Leafgren (MacLehose Press)
Concerto al-Quds by Adonis, translated by Khaled Mattawa (Yale University Press)
Tales of Yusuf Tadros by Adel Esmat, translated by Mandy McClure (AUC Press)
All The Battles by Maan Abu Taleb, translated by Robin Moger (Hoopoe Fiction, AUC Press)
Embrace on Brooklyn Bridge by Ezzedine C. Fishere, translated by John Peate (AUC Press)
Gaza Weddings by Ibrahim Nasrallah, translated by Nancy Roberts (Hoopoe Fiction, AUC Press)
Farewell, Damascus by Ghada Samman, translated by Nancy Roberts (Darf Publishers)
Bled Dry by by Abdelilah Hamdouchi, translated by Benjamin Smith (Hoopoe Fiction, AUC Press)
The Blueness of the Evening: Selected Poems of Hassan Najmi by Hassan Najmi, translated by Mbarek Sryfi and Eric Sellin (University of Arkansas Press)
Fractured Destinies by Rabai Al-Madhoun, translated by Paul Starkey (Hoopoe Fiction, AUC Press)
The Baghdad Eucharist by Sinan Antoon, translated by Maia Tabet (Hoopoe Fiction, AUC Press)
Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, translated by Jonathan Wright (Oneworld)
The winner of the 2018 prize is set to be announced late January 2019, with an awards ceremony to be held in late February or early March 2019.