The Banipal Trust for Arab Literature

Annual Lecture

The winning titles
since the first award

2006 and 2007

2006 winning title Gate of the Sun The Lodging House, 2007 winner of the Saif Ghobash Banipal Translation Prize 

2008 and 2009

The Butterfly's Burden, 2008 winner of Saif Ghobash Banipal Translation Prize The Collar and the Bracelet, winner of the 2009 Saif Ghobash Banipal Translation Prize

2010 and 2011

Yalo, winner of the 2010 Saif Ghobash Banipal Translation Prize  Adonis: Selected Poems, winner of the Saif Ghobash Banipal Translation Prize 2011


A Muslim Suicide, winner of the 2012 Saif Ghobash Banipal Translation Prize

2013 joint winners

Azazeel was the joint winner of the 2013 Saif Ghobash Banipal Translation Prize   A Land without Jasmine was the joint winner of the 2013 Saif Ghobash Banipal Translation Prize

2014 and 2015

The Corpse Washer, 2014 winner of Saif Ghobash Banipal Translation Prize  The Book of the Sultan's Seal, 2015 winner of Saif Ghobash Banipal Translation Prize

2016 and 2017

The Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi translated by Jonathan Wright 

2018 and 2019


2020 and 2021

The prize is administered by the

Society of Authors Prizes logo

About The Lecture

The Annual Lecture was established in the name of the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, to mark the tenth annual award of the first prize in the world for a published English translation of a full-length imaginative and creative work of literary merit written in Arabic and published after, or during, the year 1967. The Lecture takes place on any aspect of the subject of Arabic literature and translation.

The sponsor of the Prize, the Ghobash family, have generously extended their sponsorship to include the staging of this Annual Lecture, whose purpose is to create an opportunity to engage in the expansion and enrichment of dialogue between cultures through the power of translated literature, which creates vital openings for new perceptions, new knowledge and appreciations. 

The Banipal Trust for Arab Literature looks forward to increasingly wider support for reading literature from the Arab world in English translation, and to working with publishers, translators and booksellers to encourage and promote both the wider translation and wider availability of contemporary works of literature by Arab authors.

The inaugural lecture took place at the British Library, London, on 14 October 2016 with speaker Anton Shammas, poet and Professor of Arabic Literature at the University of Michigan. The 2017 Lecture was given by historian and scholar Robert Irwin, the 2018 Lecture by poet, philosopher and author Adonis, the 2019 one by novelist and storyteller Hanan al-Shaykh and the 2020 one by Palestinian author Liana Badr. The Lectures take place at the British Library in London, generally during the month of November. The 2020 Lecture took place virtually, hosted by the British Library, as a result of the pandemic preventing face-to-face events and was available to watch in either an Arabic or an English version, along with a live Q&A. The 2021 Lecture by Jonathan Wright was also a virtual event, hosted by the British Library on Zoom. The 2022 Lecture, given by Hartmut Fähndrich, the award-winning translator of contemporary Arabic fiction into German, was back in person at the British Library. 

The annual prize, now in its 19th year of awarding literary translation from Arabic into English, has contributed hugely to raising the profile of contemporary Arabic literature in the English-speaking world, honouring the important and crucial work of individual translators in bringing the work of both established and emerging Arab writers to the attention of the wider world. Each year there are now between 15 and 30 books entered, both fiction and poetry.

The 2023 Anual Prize Lecture was given by renowned poet and poetry translator KHALED MATTAWA on 8 February 2024 at A Celebration of Literary Translation with the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize, which included the winner of the 2023 Prize Luke Leafgren in conversation with chair of Judges Ros Schwartz in a combined event at the SOAS Brunei Gallery.  A video of the evening can be watched here: