Katharine Halls Wins PEN/Heim to Translate Haytham El-Wardany’s ‘Things That Can’t Be Fixed’

Eleven projects from 10 languages have won 2021 PEN/Heim translation grants:

The grant-winning projects include books to be translated from Arabic, Russian, Italian, Korean, French, Portuguese, Galician, Vietnamese, Bengali, and Spanish.

The 2021 grant-winning Arabic-English translator is Katharine Halls, who will bring Haytham El-Wardany’s collection Things That Can’t Be Fixed into English. Jake Syersak also won one of the 2021 grants, to bring Moroccan writer Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine’s I, Caustic from French into English.

El-Wardany’s latest collection of short stories, Ma la yumkin islahuh [Things That Can’t be Fixed], came out last year from Al-Karma Books. It was the third book by the acclaimed and much-admired Berlin-based, Cairo-born writer, following the publication of two genre-spanning nonfiction works: Kayfa takhtafi [How to Disappear] (2013) and Kitab al-nawm [The Book of Sleep] (Al-Karma, 2017).

The two earlier books were translated to English by Robin Moger and Jennifer Leigh Peterson (How to Disappear) and Robin Moger (The Book of Sleep); the latter was released in October 2020.

Halls received the 2017 Sheikh Hamad Award for Translation for her co-translation, with Adam Talib, of Raja Alem’s The Dove’s Necklace; the novel was also shortlisted for the 2017 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation. Halls has also translated a number of playtexts.

Syersak previously co-translated Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine’s Agadir with Pierre Joris; it also came out last year.

The rest of the 2021 grant recipients:

Natascha Bruce’s translation from the Chinese of Owlish and the Music-Box Ballerina by Dorothy Tse

Rohan Chhetri’s translation from the Nepali of The Dust Draws Its Face on the Wind: Essential Poems by Avinash Shrestha

Rachael Daum’s translation from the Serbian of Lusitania by Dejan Atanacković

Banibrata Mahanta’s translation from the Bengali of Labanyadevi by Kusum Khemani

Adrian Minckley’s translation from the Portuguese of The Whore by Márcia Barbieri

Lara Norgaard’s translation from the Indonesian of 24 Hours with Gaspar by Sabda Armandio

Ekaterina Petrova’s translation from the Bulgarian of Traveling in the Direction of the Shadow by Iana Boukova

Vala Thorodds’s translation from the Icelandic of Swanfolk by Kristín Ómarsdóttir

Applications for the 2022 PEN/Heim grant cycle are set to open April 1 and close June 1, 2021.