No book translated from the Arabic made either the poetry or fiction longlists of the 2019 Best Translated Book Award (BTBA), announced yesterday. However, Moroccan novelist and filmmaker Ahmed Bouanani’s The Hospital, translated from the French by Lara Vergnaud, made the 25-book fiction longlist:
Moroccan artist-author-filmmaker Ahmed Bouanani (1938–2011) crafted films, poetry, and a single cult novel, The Hospital, which was translated by Lara Vergnaud and published by New Directions last year.
Bouanani’s poetry was also recently collected into The Shutters and translated by Emma Ramadan. The Shutters was, at the end of last year, longlisted for a PEN Award for Poetry in Translation.
No Arabic translations were among the 35 books on the 2019 BTBA longlists. Previously longlisted Arabic translations include Amir Tag Elsir’s Ebola ’76 (tr. Charis Bredon and Emily Danby) and Ghayath al-Madhoun’s Adrenaline (tr. Catherine Cobham), both in 2018, and Basma Abdelaziz’s The Queue (tr. Elisabeth Jaquette) and Ashraf Fayadh’s Instructions Within (tr. Mona Kareem) in 2017.
Amir Tag Elsir also made the 2015 longlist, with French Perfume, tr. William Hutchins.
Other BTBA-longlisted titles: Najwan Darwish’s Nothing More to Lose (tr. Kareem James Abu-Zeid), 2015; Ahmed Faris al-Shidyaq’s Leg over Leg (tr. Humphrey Davies), 2014; Adania Shibli’s Touch, (tr. Paula Haydar), 2011; and Gamal al-Ghitani’s The Zafarani Files (tr. Farouk Abdel Wahab), 2010.
No Arabic title has won a Best Translated Book Award, although al-Shidyaq’s Leg over Leg was shortlisted.
As is the case for most translation prizes into English, the languages most well-represented on the 2019 BTBA longlist were French (with 9 longlisted titles) and Spanish (with 6).
The finalists for the 2019 BTBA will be announced on Wednesday, May 15.
Those who are in London can go to a special screening of two of Bouanani’s classic short films: 6 and 12 (1968) and Memory 14 (1971). These will be screened at the Mosaic Rooms on Thursday, April 25 at 7:30 p.m., followed by Fragments of Memory, a short film by Touda Bouanani about her father.
In the last Bulaq podcast of the 2017-18 season (Episode 18), we discussed Bouanani’s The Hospital, his The Shutters, translated by Emma Ramadan, and his films.
Read from “Photograms”, translated by Emma Ramadan