Three Hoopoe novels on the 2020 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize Shortlist
Three novels published by Hoopoe last year are among the five works selected for the 2020 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation Shortlist. They are A Shimmering Red Fish Swims with Me by Youssef Fadel, translated by Alexander E. Elinson, The Egyptian Assassin by Ezzedine C. Fishere, translated by Jonathan Wright, and Velvet by Huzama Habayeb, translated by Kay Heikkinen.
The news was announced on November 23 on the Banipal Magazine for Arab Literature website.
In selecting the shortlist, from among fourteen entries, including twelve novels, the Banipal Prize judges “noted a rich diversity of styles, themes, and settings” from the Arab world. This year’s judges included Paul Starkey, Emeritus Professor of Arabic, University of Durham, and Justine Jordan, fiction editor, The Guardian.
Here are extracts of the judges’s statements about the three Hoopoe novels:
“Youssef Fadel’s rich, polyphonic novel marks the triumphant conclusion of a landmark trilogy about Morocco. The work of a master storyteller. . . the tone of the novel is grand and classical, and this confers upon the book a certain furious dignity that has been brilliantly captured in Alexander E. Elinson’s sensitive and accomplished translation.”
“[Ezzedine] Fishere’s novel touches on issues of corruption, fundamentalism, fatherly love and the catastrophic effects of violence on the human spirit in a highly personalised narrative, the spirit of which has been admirably captured by Jonathan Wright in a page-turning English translation.”
“Huzama Habayeb’s novel is an intense and vivid of one woman’s life in a Palestinian camp, told with sensitivity to the sensuous but tragic world of its heroine but above all to her almost heroic defiance of reality. . . The richness of the Arabic original is captured by Kay Heikkinen in a translation that faithfully adheres to its elegance without undue artifice and without losing the deeply tragic tenor of its events.
Now in its 15th year, the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation is an annual award of £3,000, made to the translator(s) 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. The Prize aims to raise the profile of contemporary Arabic literature as well as honoring the important work of individual translators in bringing the work of established and emerging Arab writers to the attention of the wider word. It was the first prize in the world for published Arabic literary translation into English and was established by Banipal, the magazine of modern Arab literature in English translation, and the Banipal Trust for Arab Literature.