"I was honoured to work on this for many reasons, but I have to say that Raja’s process of not publishing the Arabic first really felt like a mark of faith in what translators can do, and recognition of the different value they can bring to a text."
Today is publication day for the first-ever ArabLit Quarterly.
Nine translations from the Arabic -- at least, translated from the Arabic in some roundabout fashion -- forthcoming this month.
"That was on November 29, 1979. Thanks to the clouds of gas that hovered in the air over the Holy City, the National Guard had successfully regained control of the rooftops and halls of the Grand Mosque, despite the heavy losses they had sustained earlier in the battle."
The four shortlisted stories, read by author or translator.
The four pairs that made the shortlist of the 2018 ArabLit Story Prize are: Palestinian writer Maya Abu-Alhayyat with translator Riham Adly; Egyptian writer Mohammad Abdelnabi with translator Robin Moger; Syrian author Rasha Abbas with translator Fatima El-Kalay; and Saudi novelist Raja Alem with translator Rana Ghuloom.
"Arabic is my center. I am very sensitive to the words, and up until now I cannot find the right words to capture this story, this wound. I feel I need to rewrite this book in some new Arabic, after taking a distance."
The International Prize for Arabic Fiction – or, as it's popularly known, the "Arabic Booker" – has attracted a wealth of controversy in its first four years. A number of prominent authors have refused to let their books be nominated for the prize, which has been accused of, among other things, being too closely allied with governmental powers, discriminating against women and rewarding novels that cater to western interests.
Organizers have announced the winners of the 2011 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF, or "Arabic Booker"). This year judges have hedged their bets, as it's not one novel, but two: The Arch and the Butterfly, by Moroccan author Mohammed Achaari, and The Doves' Necklace, by Saudi author Raja Alem.