43 Books of the Year: Arabic to English in 2018

There have been at least 43 Arabic-to-English translations published this year:

Because ArabLit is a border-less entity, these numbers are tallied from publishers worldwide. The total is similar to other post-2011 years.

That’s in contrast to 2018 in Arabic-to-Italian translation. Over at Editoriaraba, Chiara Comito notes that the number of translations from Arabic into Italian made a significant leap this year. Roughly, she writes that 2018 brought many new sorts of works, including graphic novels, poetry collections, and children’s books. “Among the novels, there are some big names like Khaled Khalifa and Alaa al-Aswani and several debuts (the Tunisian writer Kamel al-Riahi, Lebanese writer Emily Nasrallah, and Egyptian Basma Abdelaziz).” She notes there were also four poetry collections, including one by Mahmoud Darwish.

As for Arabic-Hebrew translations, translator Tami Chapnik writes: “we had 10 translations from Arabic/Arab authors: 5 novels, 1 poetry collection, 1 short stories collection, 1 classic non-fiction, 2 magazine volumes plus 1 essays collection on ‘modern Arabic literature in Hebrew’. At the moment, 2019 will bring 5 more.”

As for the list of 43 Arabic-to-English translations in 2018, ArabLit editor M Lynx Qualey chose six favorites:

My two highlights in poetry this year were both (surprisingly) pre-Islamic classics — Loss Sings and War Songs — both translated by James Montgomery. In short stories, I couldn’t get over my delight with Stella Gaitano’s Withered Flowers and Najla Jraissaty Khoury’s collected Pearls on a Branch: Tales from the Arab World Told by Women. Translator Inea Bushnaq brought sunshine to my childhood, and she has returned with more this year. There were a number of novels I enjoyed in 2018; it would be difficult to choose a top two. Thus I’ll spend all my remaining slots urging you to read this year’s significant nonfiction: Arwa Salih’s The Stillborn, Dunya Mikhail’s The Beekeeper, Radwa Ashour’s The Journey, and Iman Mersal’s How to Mend: Motherhood and Its Ghosts.

Another good list is Ursula Lindsey’s Notable Books of 2018 From and About the Arab World.


Concerto in al-Quds, by Adonis, tr. Khaled Mattawa, Yale University Press

The Blueness of the Evening: Selected Poems by Hassan Najmi, by Hassan Najmi, tr. Mbarek Sryfi and Eric Sellin, University of Arkansas Press

Bewildered: Love Poems from Translation of Desires, by Muhyiddin Ibn Al-‘Arabi, tr. Michael Sells

Defy the Silence,by Rasha Omran, with translations to English and Italian by Abdelrehim Youssef, Kim Echlin, and Monica Pereschi, samizdat press

*Loss Sings, by James E Montgomery, with translations of poems by pre-Islamic poet al-Khansa, Cahiers Series

*War Songs, by ‘Antarah ibn Shaddad, tr. James E. Montgomery with Richard Sieburth, Library of Arabic Literature

Arabian Romantic: Poems on Bedouin Life and Love, by ‘Abdallah ibn Sbayyil, ed and trans Marcel Kurpershoek, Library of Arabic Literature

Revolution Goes Through Walls,Safaa Fathy, tr. Safaa Fathy and Pierre Joris, SplitLevel Texts


Banthology, ed by Sarah Cleave, various authors and translators, Comma Press

*Withered Flowers: Short Stories, by Stella Gitano, tr. Anthony Calderbank (Rafiki)

*Pearls on a Branch: Tales From the Arab World Told by Women, collected by Najla Jraissaty Khoury, tr. Inea Bushnaq, Archipelago

Marrakech Noir, ed. Yassin Adnan, various authors and translators, Akashic Books

Baghdad Noir, ed. Samuel Shimon, various authors and translators, Akashic Books


Frankenstein in Baghdad, by Ahmed Saadawi, tr. Jonathan Wright, Penguin

Where the Bird Disappeared, by Ghassan Zaqtan, tr. Sam Wilder, Seagull Books

Printed in Beirut, by Jabbour Douaihy, tr. Paula Haidar, Interlink Books

The Law of Inheritance, by Yasser Abdellatif, tr Robin Moger, Seagull Books

Fractured Destinies, by Rabai Al-Madhoun, tr. Paul Starkey, Hoopoe Fiction

Tales of Yusuf Tadros, by Adel Esmat, tr. Mandy McClure, Hoopoe Fiction

Jerusalem Stands Alone, by Mahmoud Shukair, tr. Nicole Fares, Syracuse University Press

Shatila Storiesby various authors, tr. Nashwa Gowanlock, Peirene Press

The Baghdad Clock, by Shahed Alrawi, tr. Luke Leafgren, OneWorld

Cigarette Number 7, by Donia Kamal, tr. Nariman Youssef, Hoopoe Fiction

Celestial Bodies, by Jokha al-Harthi, tr. Marilyn Booth, Sandstone Press

The Occasional Virgin, by Hanan al-Shaykh, tr. Catherine Cobham, Bloomsbury Books

Praise for the Women of the Family,by Mahmoud Shukair, tr. Paul Starkey, Interlink

My Name is Adam, by Elias Khoury, tr. Humphrey Davies, Quercus

A Cloudy Day on the Western Shore, by Mohamed Mansi Qandil, tr. Barbara Romaine, Syracuse University Press

Sarab, by Raja Alem, tr. Leri Price, Hoopoe Fiction

In the Spider’s Room, by Muhammad Abdelnabi, tr. Jonathan Wright, Hoopoe Fiction

States of Passion, by Nihad Sirees, tr. Max Weiss, Pushkin Press

We Have Buried the Past, by ‘Abd al-karim Ghallab, tr. Roger Allen, 

Tenants and Cobwebsby Iraqi-Israeli novelist Samir Naqqash, tr. Sadok Masliyah, 

The Fetishists, Ibrahim al-Koni, tr. William M. Hutchins, University of Texas Press.

 A Sky So Close to Us, by Shahla Ujayli, tr. Michelle Hartman, Interlink Books.


Treasure Trove of Benefits and Variety at the Table: A Fourteenth-Century Egyptian Cookbook, by unknown, tr. Nawal Nasrallah, Brill

*The Stillborn, by Arwa Salih, tr. Samah Selim, Seagull Books

*The Beekeeper, by Dunya Mikhail, tr. Max Weiss, New Directions

In Darfur: An Account of the Sultanate and Its People, by Muhammad al-Tunisi, edited and translated by Humphrey Davies, Library of Arabic Literature.

*The Journey, by Radwa Ashour, tr. Michelle Hartman, Interlink

*How to Mend: Motherhood and Its Ghosts, by Iman Mersal, tr. Robin Moger, Kayfa Ta.


Watermelon Madness, by Taghreed Najjar, tr. Taghreed Najjar, ill. Maya Fidawi, CrackBoom!

Tomorrow, by Nadine Kaadan, tr. Nadine Kaadan, Lantana Books


Listed alphabetically!

ArabLitQuarterly: Fall 2018

Banipal 62: A Literary Journey through Arab Cinema

Banipal 63: The Best 100 Arab Novels

The Common: Issue 15: “Arabic Stories from Jordan”

Rusted Radishes: Issue 7




  1. Nawal Nasrallah’s translation of كنز الفوائد في تنويع الموائد also appeared in 2018 as “Treasure Trove of Benefits and Variety at the Table: Fourteenth-Century Anonymous Egyptian Cookbook (Brill). It’s a major work of high and material culture, in which literature happily dines with the rest of culture.


      1. Next year, I will probably forget to list my own.

      2. No, no, no, not that precious head!

  2. Thank you for this. As someone studying Arabic, but not fluent enough to read cultural materials directly, I appreciate a bibliography like this. Also, you’ve pointed me to some children’s literature, whose original Arabic is at a level I can read!

      1. Wonderful! This is just what I’ve been needing.

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