Sheikh Zayed Book Award Announces Its First Translation Grant of 2021

In News by Porter Anderson

The Syrian author Khalil Sweileh’s ‘Remorse Test,’ winner of the 2018 Sheikh Zayed Book Award in Literature, is to be translated into Ukrainian by Nora-Druk Publishers.

Syrian novelist, poet, and journalist Khalil Sweileh. Image: Sheikh Zayed Book Award

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Ninth Translation Supported by a Zayed Award Grant
The first announced translation grant of a Sheikh Zayed Book Award winning title this year goes to the Ukrainian publishing house Nora-Druk.

Translator Oksana Prokhorovych is assigned to make the Ukrainian translation of  Khalil Sweileh’s Ikhtibar Al-Nadam (Remorse Test), according to today’s announcement (February 25) from the Sheikh Zayed award offices at the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre.

The book, which won the 2018 literature category in the Sheikh Zayed program was published in 2017 by Hachette Antoine/Nofal in Beirut, and is described as “an inward view” of the Syrian civil war. Sweileh’s narrative approach and vocabulary have been praised for having opened a new channel in Syrian literature, in the book’s exploration–made by a writer-protagonist–of Damascus and its “shattered reality of place and society.”

You can learn more about the book here at Frankfurt Rights.

Sweileh’s work includes multiple collections of poetry, and he’s the winner of the 2009 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature for his novel Warraq al-Hubb (Writing Love, AUC Press, 2012). He also was honored with the Arab Journalism Award in 2010.

Dr. Ali Bin Tamim

In making today’s announcement, Dr. Ali bin Tamim, chair of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre and secretary-general of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, is quoted, saying, “We are very pleased to announce that our first translation grant of 2021 will ensure that the novel Ikhtibar Al-Nadam gets the wider readership it deserves by being translated from Arabic into Ukrainian.

“Last year was a successful period for the award, during which the translation grant was used for the release of six English, French, German, and Ukrainian translations of Sheikh Zayed Book Award-winning works, and we look forward to further achievements in 2021.”

The original cover of the Sweileh book

In learning of the grant, Sweileh said, “Having your novel translated into another language gives it extra wings to fly outside the land of your mother tongue,” which of course is the over-arching mission of the Zayed Award translation grants program.

As Publishing Perspectives readers will remember, the award program announced in December that it will open its program of translation grants to all of its shortlisted titles as well as the winning books, a change that went into effect on January 1.

Prior to this year, the translation grants program—which was founded in 2018—has been available for applications only on the award’s winning titles in certain categories.

The Ukrainian cover for the coming Sweileh translation

In Kiev, Eleonora Simonova, director of Nora-Druk Publishers, is quoted, saying, “We chose this book because it highlights common factors regarding the impact that wars have on countries, regardless of background and cultures.

“War is a global issue that leads to similar results and, in essence, it displaces not just bodies but souls as well.”

With the translation of Ikhtibar Al-Nadam, the number of translations supported by this initiative will increase to nine, in languages including English, French, German, Italian and Ukrainian. The Sheikh Zayed Book Award will continue to work over the coming months to translate more award-winning and shortlisted works across its literature and children’s literature categories.

With the translation of Ikhtibar Al-Nadam, the number of translations supported by this initiative rises to nine. Languages into which these Arabic works are being translated include English, French, German, Italian and Ukrainian. The Sheikh Zayed Book Award is working in the coming months to translate more award-winning and shortlisted works across its literature and children’s literature categories.

Works translated with the support of the Zayed Award program include:

  • The Dinoraf  by Emirati author Hessa Al Muhairi, which has been published in English, French and Italian
  • The novel The Autumn of Innocence by Lebanese novelist Abbas Baydoun, which has been published in Ukrainian
  • Madmen of Bethlehem by Palestinian author Osama Alaysa, which has been translated into Ukrainian and French

The story I Dream of Being a Concrete Mixer by Kuwaiti author Hussain Al-Mutawaa, has been translated into English, French, and German. Hatless by Kuwaiti author Lateefa Buti has been translated into French.

Below is an announcement video made by the Zayed Award program for the news of the grant.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Sheikh Zayed Book Award is here, more on Arabic literature is here, and more on translation is here. More from us on publishing and book awards in the international industry is here. Publishing Perspectives is the media partner of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As as an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.