In England, the Banipal Prize Names Its 2022 Shortlist

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Three English translations of Arabic literary works are now are in contention for the 2022 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize.

The three newly shortlisted works for the 2022 edition of the Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation and their translators are, from left, Hamdi Abu Golayyel’s ‘The Men Who Swallowed the Sun,’ translated by the late Humphrey Davies; Yassin Adnan’s ‘Hot Maroc,’ translated by Alexander E. Elinson; and Mohamed Kheir’s ‘Slipping,’ translated by Robin Moger

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

A Winner To Be Named in February
In London today (December 1), the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation has announced a three-book shortlist chosen by its jury from a submissions pool of 17 titles. To a degree, the flexibility of this small but carefully followed awards program is on display in the fact that last year saw five shortlisted works and the 2020 edition had five shortlisted titles, as well.

Media messaging tells us that the jury initially selected 12 books for a longlist this year. In working to choose a shortlist from that group, organizers say, the jurors’ discussion touched on ” the ambition of the original work, the accuracy and flair of the translation, and the range of literary genres and styles with which they were presented.”

Juror Susheila Nasta says, in a prepared statement, “At its most powerful, literature should act as an imaginative passport into other worlds, a conduit to take us inside the lives of others, inviting us for a moment to stay and be part of an unknown world. Words transport as do good translations. At their best, translations also take us elsewhere, offering readers stories in cultural landscapes they wouldn’t otherwise encounter,” she says. “The Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation makes this journey possible.”

Nasta’s fellow jurors on this year’s panel are Charis Olszok, chairing; Katharine Halls; and Becki Maddock.

The Banipal Prize pays an annual award of £3,000 (US$3,678) to the winning translator or translators of a published translation in English of a full-length imaginative and creative Arabic work of literary merit published after, or during, the year 1967, and first published in English translation in the year prior to the award.

This is one of the many prizes administered by the Society of Authors in England, although, like a few others of those awards, the Banipal prefers to make its announcements independent of–and usually in advance of–reports from the society. The prize is awarded at a ceremony hosted by the Society for its multiple awards results.

This year, two of the three shortlisted works are from university presses. All three of these works have their translators credited on their book covers.

One of the three translators is being honored posthumously: Humphrey Davies–a two-time winner of the Banipal Prize, and twice a runner-up, as well–died on November 12, 2021 in London. He was 74.

The winner chosen from the three shortlisted works is to be announced in February.

The Banipal Prize Shortlist
Author Translator Title Country Publisher (of the translated edition)
Hamdi Abu Golayyel Humphrey Davies The Men Who Swallowed the Sun Egypt American University in Cairo Press / Hoopoe Books
Yassin Adnan Alexander E. Elinson Hot Maroc Morocco Syracuse University Press
Mohamed Kheir Robin Moger Slipping Egypt Two Lines Press

The prize is wholly sponsored by Omar Saif Ghobash and his family in memory of the late Saif Ghobash, who was passionate about Arabic and world literature.

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 204th awards-related report in the 216 publication days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.


More from Publishing Perspectives on Arabic literature is here. More from us on the Banipal Prize is here, more on translation is here, and more on publishing and book awards 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 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.

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