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, Omar Saif Ghobash and his 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 will also be a virtual event, but this time hosted by the British Library on Zoom.
The annual prize 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.