The 2007 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation
The 2007 Prize has been awarded to Farouk Mustafa (pen-name Farouk Abdel Wahab) for his translation of Khairy Shalaby’s The Lodging House, published by the American University in Cairo Press. The judges, the same expert team as the first year, were author Moris Farhi, literary journalist Maya Jaggi, and academic and literary translator from Arabic Roger Allen.
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Speaking for the judges, Maya Jaggi stated: “Khairy Shalaby’s The Lodging House is a wise, anarchic, ribald, compassionate compendium of life at its most precarious and most ebullient. Its narrator is a young drop-out expelled from teachers’ college for assaulting an instructor who picked on him as “barefoot riffraff”, one of a generation of peasants and urban poor rising with the widening of education. His fall deposits him in Wikalat Atiya, once a famed caravanserai outside Alexandria, now a twilight zone in the city of Damanhour. Descending into an underworld of heaving doss houses, hashish dens and Bohemian tea houses, he finds a rogues’ gallery of fugitives and addicts fearful of the regime’s secet police. Yet as he comes to know its characters – from peddlars and conmen to midwives and matchmakers – he is buoyed by a world of shared feasts and morality tales, seductive and self-reliant women, and landlords who give meddling authorities the run-around.
“Set in the years following the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, after political parties have been dissolved by decree, and as suspected members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood are being rounded up, jailed or executed, the novel hints at the forces feuding in Egyptian society, while illuminating the lives of those whose main goal is simply to survive. In awarding the prize to this novel, which was published in Arabic in 1999 and won the 2003 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature, the judges were recognising the zest of Farouk Abdel Wahab’s translation, and his service in bringing Shalaby’s novel to the English-speaking world."
To buy The Lodging House online in the UK, click here
For more information about The Lodging House and/or to buy a hardback copy online in the USA/worldwide, click here
To buy a paperback copy online in the USA/worldwide, click here
To read the review of The Lodging House in Banipal 30, click here
Fellow judge and literary translator Roger Allen commented: “It is not a little ironic that, in a era in which the Western world seems more than ever focused on events taking place in the Middle East and especially the Arabic-speaking world, the opportunities and publication outlets available for making well crafted translations of Arabic literature available are fewer than ever. It is almost as though, in an era where we see a plethora of works on Islam, terrorism, and Middle Eastern economies, literature is not to be considered as a reflection of a nation’s/culture’s view of the world – indeed, one might suggest, as the most accurate reflection. If the Saif Ghobash–Banipal Prize can serve to highlight the excellence and relevance of the literary works that are available to a readership of English-language texts, then it is providing an invaluable service. It deserves the widest possible support.
“The winner of this year’s prize, the novel of Khairy Shalaby, has long been recognized as a great contribution to the Arabic, and specially Egyptian, novel. The portrait that it offers is authentic, affectionate and critical – all of them desirable facets of the novel. The translation is a brilliant exercise in the transfer of both literal meaning and nuance into the context of another language’s culture – no mean feat. The runner-up is also a truly superb exercise in translation, and the text involved is a wonderful illustration of the sheer sophistication of the contemporary Arabic novel in its exploitation of narrative strategies.”
Saadi Youssef, chair of judges from the Banipal Trust, added: “Khairy Shalaby's The Lodging House is an outspoken message, in defence of the forgotten, the downtrodden and the poorest of the poor. Before Khairy Shalaby nobody dared to give such a statement.”
Moris Farhi wrote: “No praise can do justice to the importance of the Banipal Trust – and, indeed, to the Saif Ghobash–Banipal Prize. The Trust stands as a tariq, a shining star and messenger, for introducing Arab literature – as great a literature as any in the world – to the Anglophone readership. If it can be said that the Word, whether in prose or poetry, is an unending source of enrichment, then Arab literature ranks as an Aladdin’s cave of infinite proportions. The energy in the works submitted for the Saif Ghobash–Banipal Prize this year was overpowering, and none more so than Khairy Shalaby’s The Lodging House, the winner of the prize.
"Being one of the judges was an honour and a great joy.”
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On behalf of all the judges, Maya Jaggi announced: “The runner-up Marilyn Booth has rendered Hamdi Abu Golayyel’s first novel Thieves in Retirement, published by Syracuse University Press, into a supple, subtle English that brilliantly captures the dark ironies and skewering satire of a relatively new voice in Egyptian fiction and Arabic literature. It reads delightfully, as though it were not a translation at all.”
To read the review published in Banipal 29, click here
To purchase a copy of Thieves in Retirement in the UK, click here
For more information about Thieves in Retirement and/or online ordering in the USA, click here
A third work won commendation – the translation by Peter Theroux of Emile Habiby’s Saraya, The Ogre’s Daughter, published by Ibis Editions.
To read the review published in Banipal 28, click here
For more information about the book and the online ordering link for Saraya, The Ogre's Daughter, click here
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