Banipal Translation Prize Announces Four-book Shortlist

The Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize today announced its 2018 shortlist:

The four shortlisted translators are: Khaled Mattawa (for translating Adonis’s Concerto al-Quds), Jonathan Wright (for translating Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad), Ben Koerber (for his translation of Ahmed Naji’s Using Life), and Luke Leafgren (for his translation of Muhsin al-Rami’s The President’s Gardens).

The list as announced by the prize:

Using Life by Ahmed Naji (Egypt),
translated by Ben Koerber (CMES Publications, University of Texas at Austin)

The President’s Gardens by Muhsin Al-Ramli (Iraq),
translated by Luke Leafgren (MacLehose Press)

Concerto al-Quds by Adonis (Syria),
translated by Khaled Mattawa (Yale University Press)

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (Iraq),
translated by Jonathan Wright (Oneworld)

Among the eight writers and translators on the all-male shortlist, three are previous winners: Adonis, Mattawa, and Wright. Mattawa won in 2011 for translating Adonis’s Selected Poems. Wright was the prize’s co-winner in 2013 for his translation of Youssef Ziedan’s Azazeel, and he won the prize again in 2016, for his translation of Saud Alsanousi’s The Bamboo Stalk. Wright also previously received a commendation from the prize, for his translation of Amjad Nasser’s Land of No Rain.

This year’s panel of judges is chaired by publisher and translator Pete Ayrton. It also includes editor and translator Georgia de Chamberet, novelist Fadia Faqir, and translator Sophia Vasalou.

According to the release:

The judges were impressed by the tremendous variety of the entries from different parts of the Arab world, ranging through poetry, crime, literary fiction and graphic novels. The shortlist reflects this diversity, with two novels about the wars in Iraq and their aftermath, a collection of poetry about Jerusalem, and a contemporary take on Cairo today. In the face of social and political upheaval, literature continues to make waves in the Arab world.

This is only the second year the Banipal Prize has issued a shortlist before announcing a winner. The 2018 winner is expected to be announced in late January, 2019.

You can read the full release at the Banipal Trust website.