Yasmine Seale Wins 2022 PEN Grant to Translate al-Nabulsi

Translator and author Yasmine Seale has won a 2022 PEN America Literary Grant to support her translation of If You See Them Fall to Earth by Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulsi (1641-1731):

PEN America today announced its 2022 literary grant winners. These grants aim to awards works-in-progress that “show the potential for lasting literary impact.” They write: “The following grant winners will be supported as they continue their important work, and we look forward to seeing these thought-provoking and challenging examples of literary excellence brought to the world.”

There are grants for literary oral history, children’s and young-adult novels, and eleven translation grants, for literature translated from Filipino, Romanian, French, Epanish, Chinese, Kazakh, Italian, Castrapo, Thai, Swahili, and Arabic.

Each translator will receive a grant of $3,700 to support the translation’s completion.

The judges said, of Yasmine Seale’s proposed translation:

The Ottoman-era scholar, writer, and jurist Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulsi’s early 18th-century work ‘Perfuming Humanity by Interpreting Dreams’ is arguably the most important text in the rich history of Islamic dream interpretation, the culmination of a classical Arabic genre located at the intersection of poetry, prophecy, theology, psychology, and philosophy. With If You See Them Fall to Earth, translator Yasmine Seale skillfully introduces English-language readers to this rich tradition with her edited selections from al-Nabulsi’s massive work. Through her poetic translations, Seale breathes new life into this oneiric text.

ArabLit Quarterly ran an excerpt from the Damascene jurist, traveler, poet, smoker, Sufi saint and Enlightenment thinker’s dream manual in our DREAMS issue.

It opens:

If you dream of the sea you will have something you were hoping for. If you dream of drinking the whole sea, your life will be long. If you dream of crossing the sea, you will gain what belongs to your enemy, just as the children of Israel crossed the sea and gained what belonged to Pharaoh. If you dream of urinating in the sea, you will persist in your mistakes. 

You can read the full excerpt in our DREAMS issue.

More about the other PEN America-supported projects on their website.