Sheikh Zayed Book Award Holds Cultural Seminar in New York Public Library

Abu Dhabi,

The ‘Arabic Literature in Translation’ event introduced the recently launched Translation Fund  

Abu Dhabi, 12 July 2018: The Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA) organised and held a seminar at the New York Public Library (NYPL) entitled ‘Arabic Literature in Translation’ on Wednesday 11th July. The seminar introduced the Award’s recently launched Translation Fund, which aims to support publishing houses in translating Award-winning titles into English, French and German. 

The event also hosted authors, publishers, and translators as part of a reception, during which the President of the Frankfurt International Book Fair, Juergen Boos, delivered a welcome speech in the presence of HE Majid Al Suwaidi, the UAE’s Consul General in New York. During the event, Abdullah Majed Al Ali, Acting Executive Director of the National Library Sector at the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), shared details of the SZBA translation fund.

HE Al Suwaidi said: “Events such as the ‘Arabic Literature in Translation’ seminar are vital to the advancement of Arabic literature and culture and are particularly important for global cultural diversity as Arabic is one of the most widely used languages worldwide. The UAE has a long history in promoting cultural diversity and understanding; over the course of the UAE’s history, our country has become a model of openness and tolerance and a cultural leader in the Arab region through initiatives such as the Sheikh Zayed Book Award.” 

Al Ali said: “The Translation Fund is an exciting initiative that we hope will contribute to increasing the number of Arabic books that are translated, published and distributed outside the Arab World.  It has been designed to complement the Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s nine categories; while most categories accept books in Arabic, three important prizes are available for our international audiences; best publisher, best translation, and best work on Arab culture. Both the fund and the award recognise significant contributions to Arabic culture and are designed to help foster scholarship and creative development.”

Juergen Boos, President of the Frankfurt International Book Fair said: “Translated books, and the people behind these: authors, translators and publishers are providing us the opportunity to understand and therefore respect cultures which are not our own.”

John Siciliano, Executive Editor of Penguin Classics and translator of Ahmad Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad, the first Arabic novel to reach the finals in the Man Booker International Prize hosted a panel discussion at the seminar. Siciliano also translated The Corpse Exhibition, a story collection by Iraqi writer Hassan Blasim, one of the top 10 books for 2014 and winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. 

Also participating in the discussion were Chip Rosetti, Managing Editor, Library of Arabic Literature, NYU Press, and Alexander Elinson, Associate Professor from Hunter College and Max Weiss, Associate Professor at Princeton University. 

The NYPL event was the first in a series of seminars the Sheikh Zayed Book Award will be hosting this year to promote the translation of its winning titles, with further events organised for both Italy and the UK.