Iraqi novelist, poet, and translator Sinan has won the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for bringing his own novel, The Corpse Washer, into English:
Judges for the award, which is in its ninth year, met in December of last year to choose from between 17 submitted titles. The judging panel was made up of literary translator and former Banipal-prize-winner Jonathan Wright, translator and writer Lulu Norman, broadcaster and writer Paul Blezard, Banipaleditor and trustee Samuel Shimon, and was chaired by the Society of Authors’ Paula Johnson.
The judges’ statement about The Corpse Washer says that “Sinan Antoon comes close, in this translation of his own novel, to the ideal in literary translation – the invisibility of the translator”:
Thoughtful, precise and consistent in voice and mood, Sinan Antoon comes close, in this translation of his own novel, to the ideal in literary translation – the invisibility of the translator. His fluent and forthright language matches the style and rhythm of his own original Arabic and the unadorned, sometimes affectless tone reflects the hollowness of life as the onslaught of war brings an onslaught of bodies for the corpse washers of Baghdad. The novel ends with Jawad sitting under the pomegranate tree that grows from the water he uses to wash the corpses. A rich, profound insight into an Iraq we hear very little of, this is a story that resonates with human pathos and bears every hallmark of becoming a modern classic.
About June Rain, the judges wrote that Haydar’s translation “exactly captures the tone and heft of an extraordinary novel”:
Lyrical and at times wistful, Douaihy’s novel, part tragedy, part ‘whodunnit’, is rendered through a kaleidoscope of superb stories and characters. Using multiple points of view, the shifting of time and a cast of beautifully drawn characters, his affectionate, at times humorous, conjuring of Lebanese village life makes June Rain a very rich and rewarding read. Paula Haydar’s astonishing translation exactly captures the tone and heft of an extraordinary novel that tells us so much about sectarianism and its heartbreaking legacies.Jonathan Wright (for Azazeel) and William Hutchins (for A Land Without Jasmine), 2012 winner Roger Allen, 2011 winner and “Genius Grantee” Khaled Mattawa, andtwo-time winner Humphrey Davies.
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