Translator Anam Zafar won the 2021 Gulf Coast Prize in Translation for her work on four stories from Najat Abed Alsamad’s In the Tenderness of War.
The Gulf Coast Prize in Translation, founded in 2014, grants its annual winner $1,000 and publication in the print edition of Gulf Coast. Honorable mentions receive $250. This is the first year an Arabic translation won the prize.
Judge Sophie Hughes, on Zafar’s winning submission:
Sophie Hughes, on the winning works:
The translator of In the Tenderness of War, a collection of powerful snapshots of life in contemporary Syria, is responsive to the narratives’ mutable energies – from sobering to witty, tender to tragic – and intricate modes – both poetic and journalistic. They know, for example, when to use colloquial contractions, as when one narrator poignantly addresses the city of Aleppo: “I’m dragging myself back to you, Aleppo […] If I make it, pick me up and pity me, and don’t shut the door of mercy in my face”; and when to stretch clauses to their full extension, imposing the slower consumption of the narrators’ more philosophical lines: ‘”She waits for my visits with such joy. It is the joy that comes from meeting a true friend.” Reading collections of independent yet tangentially connected vignettes is often a joltingly vital experience as you move from situation to situation and voice to voice; this translator’s excellent sense of rhythm and pacing in English runs throughout all of the pieces and anchored me firmly in the world of the book.
Anam Zafar works from Arabic and French to English and holds an MA in Applied Translation Studies from the University of Leeds. She was longlisted for the 2021 John Dryden Translation Competition and selected as a 2021 ALTA Virtual Travel Fellow.
Her translations have been published in print by ArabLit Quarterly and the National Centre for Writing, and online by ArabLit, ArabKidLitNow!, the SpLitera Cultural Association, and World Kid Lit.
The prize also named two honorable mentions: Maureen Shaughnessy’s translation of an excerpt of Leila Sucari’s first novel Adentro tampoco hay luz / Darkness Inside and Out
and Tiffane Levick’s translation of an excerpt from Sofia Aouine’s debut novel Rhapsodie desc oublés / Rhapsody of the Overlooked.
You can find more about In the Tenderness of War on YouTube: