Winners of the Saif Ghobash – Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation

We are excited to read books that are expertly translated – so that both our English and Arabic readers can get a feel for the true flavor of the work.  One good place to turn for this is the Saif Ghobash – Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation.  The 2007 winner of this coveted award is Farouk Abel Wahab for his translation of The Lodging House  by Khairy Shalaby, Published by the American University in Cairo Press.  The runner-up is Marilyn Booth for Thieves in Retirement by Hamdi Abu Golayyel published by Syracuse University Press.

The closing date for 2008 entries of this £2000 annual prize is January 31, 2008 – do you know a translator who should be nominated? More information at:


As so much of good trans-cultural / trans-lingual reading depends upon support for translation, we are pleased to hear about Kalima, a major new translation initiative which funds the translation, publication and distribution of high quality foreign writing into Arabic. A gala dinner in Abu Dhabi on November 21st marked the official launch of this critical organization, which will have a local, regional and international impact by supporting translation and encouraging readers of Arabic literature.

Every year Kalima will select 100 candidate titles of classic, contemporary and modern writing from around the world to be translated into Arabic. We can’t wait to see the list of works to be translated for the coming year! More information can be found at:

I’jaam by Sinan Antoon

For those who missed our December 3rd meeting about I’jaam by Sinan Antoon, here is a little taste:

This powerful story was beautifully written and captures the pain and fragmented mental state of an imprisoned young man – through descriptive imagery and the very structure of letters/words. If you didn’t catch it, I’jaam denotes the practice of adding dots to letters of the Arabic alphabet to alter phonetic value. If dots are omitted, words can become ambiguous or inappropriate for their contexts. Written by a prisoner without dots, the novel is presented as a transcribed manuscript with an ambiguous (mistranslated?) subtext. Antoon is an Iraqi author currently living and teaching in the USA.

From literary rebellion and the psychology of fear to poetry and love, Antoon draws you in to his characters with a very personal story that weaves everyday moments of family and a young man falling in love amidst larger state politics – and it was the personal moments that felt the most riveting for Kutub’s readers. Continue reading