Friday 17 March 2017

Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation

The Prize

The prize is an annual award of £3,000, made to the translator(s) of a published translation in English of a full-length imaginative and creative Arabic work of 
The Bambook Stalk paperback editionThe Bamboo Stalk hard cover editionliterary merit published after, or during, the year 1967 and first published in English translation in the year prior to the award.

Its first award was made in 2006 and in 2015, at the start of its tenth year of awarding prizes for contemporary Arabic literature translated into English, the sponsors, Omar Ghobash and his family, agreed to mark the occasion by extending their sponsorship to establish an annual lecture on literary translation. The inaugural lecture took place on 14 October 2016 at the British Library Conference Centre in London, given by the author, translator and essayist Anton Shammas on Blind Spots: A millennium of Arabic in translation – from Ibn al-Haytham to William Faulkner via Don Quixote. Click here for all information about the lecture.
As the interest in literature from the Arab world increased since the establishment of the prize in 2005, in 2013 the Trust became concerned that the original cut-off point of 35 years for the original Arabic publication would prevent translations of important authors being entered for the only prize in the world for Arabic literary translation. After much discussion the Trustees decided to extend the original Arabic publication date to after, or during, the year 1967, widely recognised as a "watershed" year for Arabic literature. "The date of 1967 . . . one of those historical watersheds that not only divide one historical period from another but also call radically into question the very principles by which literary historical periods and thereby the relationships between present and past, are established in the first place." Roger Allen, in Intertextuality in Modern Arabic Literature after 1967. 2014 marked the change in entry requirements.
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The 2016 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation is awarded to Jonathan Wright for his translation of The Bamboo Stalk by Kuwaiti author Saud Alsanousi. Click here for all details and the Judges' report.
The four judges for 2016 are last year's winner Paul Starkey (Chair); Zahia Smail Salhi, professor of Arabic; Lucy Popescu, writer and journalist; and Bill Swainson, literary consultant and publisher. Twenty-one entries were received, with two discovered to be ineligible (one had been translated from French, but published trilingually in English, French and Arabic; the other was a volume of literary non-fiction). Click here for more about the Judges, and here for winner announcement and the list of the 19 elegible entries.

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The Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize aims to raise the profile of contemporary Arabic literature as well as honouring the important work of individual translators in bringing the work of established and emerging Arab writers to the attention of the wider world. It was established by Banipal, the magazine of modern Arab literature in English translation, and the Banipal Trust for Arab Literature. The inaugural prize was awarded on 9 October 2006.
The prize is administered by the Society of Authors in the United Kingdom, alongside the other prizes for literary translation from languages that include Dutch, French, German, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish. All are administered by the Society and awarded annually at a joint ceremony hosted by the Society and the TLS and supported by Arts Council England.
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The deadline for entries and publication of works each year is 31 March. For full rules and conditions click here. 

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