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Arabic English Translation: Today’s landscape and future horizons

Arabic English Translation: Today’s landscape and future horizons

Date(s) - 09/30/2021
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

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New Writing North

This event, taking place on International Translation Day, is for early and mid-career literary translators working from Arabic into English

About this event

This event, taking place on International Translation Day, is for early and mid-career literary translators working from Arabic into English. We will explore the contemporary translation scene and consider where we are heading next. Where does Arabic sit in the world of translated literature? How has the reception of Arabic literature changed in recent years? What trends might affect future possibilities? Moderated by Nariman Youssef, our expert panellists will reflect on these questions, and share their experiences of creating, commissioning and finding outlets for work in translation. The session is free to attend.

This is part 1 of a two-session series looking at trends in literary translation between Arabic and English. Part 2 will focus on the movement of English literature into Arabic.


Nariman Youssef (Chair) Nariman Youssef is a Cairo-born, London-based semi-freelance translator working between Arabic and English. She holds an MA in Translation Studies from the University of Edinburgh, part-time manages a translation team at the British Library, and runs and curates translation workshops with Shadow Heroes. Literary translations include Inaam Kachachi’s The American Granddaughter, Donia Kamal’s Cigarette No. 7, contributions in Words Without Borders, The Common, Banipal magazine, and poetry anthologies Beirut39 and The Hundred Years’ War.

Marilyn Booth holds the Khalid bin Abdallahs Al Saud Chair for the Study of the Contemporary Arab World, Oriental Institute and Magdalen College, Oxford. Her most recent monographs are The Career and Communities of Zaynab Fawwaz: Feminist Thinking in fin-de-siècle Egypt (2021) and Classes of Ladies of Cloistered Spaces: Writing Feminist History in fin-de-siècle Egypt (2015); in 2019, she published the edited collection Migrating Texts: Circulating Translations around the Ottoman Mediterranean; a second collection featuring more research by the Ottoman Translation Study Group will come out in 2022 (coedited with Claire Savina). She has translated many works of Arabic fiction into English; recently, Jokha Alharthi’s Celestial Bodies (2019 Man Booker International Prize), The Penguin’s Song and No Road to Paradise by Lebanese novelist Hassan Daoud, and Huda Barakat’s Voices of the Lost. Her translation of Jokha Alharthi’s more recent novel, Bitter Orange Tree, will come out in 2022. She is continuing her research on historical translation and is also translating two works of nineteenth-century fiction by Arabophone Ottoman women in Egypt.

M Lynx Qualey is a literary critic and book editor who runs the “ArabLit” website (, which won a 2017 London Book Fair “Literary Translation Initiative” prize. As a translator, she focuses on middle-grade and YA novels; her translation of Sonia Nimr’s Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands (2020) was a finalist for the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative YA prize. She also publishes ArabLit Quarterly magazine and co-hosts the Bulaq podcast.

ArabLit started as a blog in 2009 and has developed into a community resource for translators, publishers, writers, and readers who work on literature between Arabic and English. It has spawned a translation prize (the ArabLit Story Prize), a magazine (ArabLit Quarterly) and is supporting the translation of classic works by women authors, such as a collection Samira Azzam’s short stories.

Bishan Samaddar is an editor and one of the directors of Seagull Books, based in Calcutta, India. He is commissioning editor for Seagull’s Pride List, which focuses on LGBT works, and coordinates acquisitions for Seagull’s Arab, Hungarian and Slovak Lists. As an editor, Bishan was shortlisted along with translator Owen Good for the 2020 TA First Translation Prize from the Society of Authors.

This event forms part of New Writing North’s Arabic Translation Mentoring Programme and is supported by the British Council.

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