Determined to spread the word about Arab storytelling
In this article from The National, Marcia Lynx Qualey explores how translators such as Elisabeth Jaquette have played a critical role in shaping what Arabic literature is read in English and why it is important to boost women’s voices in particular.
Translator Elisabeth Jaquette is determined to spread the word about Arab storytelling. Her translation of Basma Abdel Aziz’s The Queue has her shortlisted for the first TA First Translation Prize.
When the TA First Translation Prize by the Society of Authors announced its first shortlist this January, it was no surprise to find Elisabeth Jaquette among the shortlist of six.
The new prize judges the first published books of debut translators, and Jaquette was shortlisted for her work on The Queue, by Egyptian writer, psychiatrist, and sculptor Basma Abdel Aziz.
Jaquette first came across the book in 2013, while living in Cairo. In 2014, she won a translation grant from English PEN, and her translation was eventually published by Melville House Press in 2016.
But The Queue, also longlisted for the 2017 Best Translated Book Award, “wasn’t just my first book-length translation,” Jaquette said, “it was my first translation of anything.”
Since this auspicious start, Jaquette has carried work by 30-odd different Arab writers into English, including a graphic novel, a collection of poetry and aphorisms, and two novels.
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Posted on 25/02/2018 in FICTION General, tagged as Arabic ficiton, Basma Abdel Aziz, Best Translated Book Award, Elisabeth Jaquette, fiction, Hoopoe Fiction, Marcia Lynx Qualey, The National, The Queue, translation, world fiction