Translator Sarah Enany wins 2021 Banipal Prize for ‘The Girl with Braided Hair’

The winner of the 2021 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize is Rasha Adly’s novel, Shaghaf, “superbly translated” into English by Sarah Enany as The Girl with Braided Hair, published by Hoopoe (2020), the AUC Press literary imprint.

“We are delighted that Sarah Enany’s impressive skill as a translator has been recognized with this prestigious prize,” said Nadine El-Hadi, acquisitions editor of Hoopoe. “She deserves great commendation for her translation of Rasha Adly’s intricate and rich novel The Girl with Braided Hair into eloquent, vivid English, and we are proud to have been the novel’s publisher in translation.”


Following the shortlist of five novels last November, the Banipal judges were unanimous in naming Enany as the winner of the £3,000 prize, to be awarded in an online ceremony by the Society of Authors on 10 February 2022.

“I’m thrilled that my translation of Rasha Adly’s The Girl with Braided Hair has won this year’s prestigious Banipal Prize,” said Enany, a literary translator and an assistant professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at Cairo University. “I’m very grateful to Hoopoe and the AUC Press for giving me this opportunity, and to the judges for their kind words about the translation. I hope this award will encourage English-language readers to enjoy this richly detailed and poignant novel.”

Enany has translated a number of novels by writers such as Yusuf Idris and Mohamed Salmawy, as well as works of nonfiction, including Ahmed Aboul Gheit’s Egypt’s Foreign Policy in Times of Crisis: My Testimony (AUC Press, 2020). She is the translator of Kamal Ruhayyim’s ‘Galal trilogy,’ published in English by AUC Press as Diary of a Jewish Muslim (2014), Days in the Diaspora (2012), and Menorahs and Minarets (2017). She also translated Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables into colloquial Egyptian Arabic.

(Left to right) Sarah Enany, cover of The Girl with Braided Hair, and Rasha Adly

Rasha Adly’s rich novel, which is based on historical events, weaves together the story of two women living centuries apart who are bound together by an enigmatic painting. While working on restoring an unsigned portrait of a strikingly beautiful girl from the Napoleonic Era, Yasmine, an art historian, discovers that the artist has embedded a lock of hair into the painting. The mysterious painting came into the museum’s possession without record, and Yasmine sets out to uncover the secret concealed within this captivating work. Meanwhile, back in the eighteenth century, at the close of the French Campaign in Egypt, sixteen-year-old Zeinab, the daughter of a prominent sheikh, is drawn into French high society when Napoleon himself requests her presence. Enamored by the foreign customs of the Europeans, she finds herself on a dangerous path, one that may ostracize her from her family and culture.


Posted on 12/01/2022 in Uncategorized


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