Yesterday, PEN America announced the longlists for its 2019 literary awards. Ninety titles are in the running for prizes that honor fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and translation:
On the ten-book longlist celebrating poetry in translation are two titles by Arab authors:
The Shutters, Ahmed Bouanani (New Directions)
Translated from the French by Emma Ramadan
Revolution Goes Through Walls, Safaa Fathy (SplitLevel Texts)
Translated from the Arabic by Safaa Fathy and Pierre Joris
Safaa Fathy is an Egyptian poet, filmmaker, and essayist who studied philosophy in France. Bouanani is a French poet, novelist, and filmmaker whose cult classic The Hospital was also published in 2018.
Another title translated from Arabic, Dunya Mikhail’s The Beekeeper was longlisted for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction, which honors “a distinguished book of general nonfiction published in 2017 or 2018.” Mikhail’s book was co-translated by herself and Max Weiss.
The first poem from Revolution Goes Through Walls, “I would like to say,” opens:
I would like to say, I don’t know the road to paradise… that my tongue, the people, and that man sitting contemplating the railway lines in a deep meditation nobody will ever know, existed. My house existed — in a place I am still seeking. It wasn’t in this village where I witnessed other children being born on the same blood-stained mattress I was born on in the same room to which the midwife regularly came, when she went away with the bit and took away the tongue.
You can keep reading at spdbooks.org.
The winner of the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction takes $10,000, while the winner of the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation earns $3,000. Judges for the nonfiction prize are Nana-Ama Danquah, McKenzie Funk, Syreeta McFadden, Christina Sharpe, and Linda Villarosa. Judges for the poetry prize are Sinan Antoon, Ewa Chrusciel, Peter Filkins, and Katrine Ogaard Jensen.
The finalists for all PEN’s book awards will be announced in January 2019, with the winners to be feted at the 2019 PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony on February 26, 2019 in New York City.