Sheikh Zayed Book Award Released 10 Translations in 2023

Abu Dhabi,

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA) at the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC) has announced that its Translation Grant initiative enabled the translation of six new books this year. This brings the total number of published translated works through the grant in 2023 to 10, spanning multiple languages including French, English, German, and for the first time this year, Portuguese and Polish.

A diverse range of Arabic titles were selected to receive support from the Translation Grant, which offers up to USD 19,000 for the translation of winning and shortlisted books from the SZBA’s Literature, Young Author (fiction) and Children’s Literature categories.

The titles which received the Translation Grant in 2023 are:

  1. ‘Fi Athar Enayat Al Zayyat’ (Traces of Enayat) by Egyptian novelist Iman Mersal, SZBA winner in 2021 in the Literature category. The book was translated into English by Robin Moger and published by And Other Stories; translated into Portuguese by Nisreene Matar under the title ‘No rastro de Enayat’ and published by Brazilian publisher Editora Rua do Sabão; and translated into Polish by Agnieszka Piotrowska, published by the Polish Arabic Library under the title ‘Śladami Inajat’.
  2. Hatless (Hutlos) by Lateefah Boti from Kuwait, SZBA winner in 2017 in the Children’s Literature category; translated into German by Suleman Taufiq and published by Sujet Verlag. 
  3. ‘Al Fata al-lathi Absara Lawn al-Hawa’ (The Boy Who Saw the Colour of Air) by Abdo Wazen from Lebanon, SZBA winner in 2012 in the Children’s Literature category; translated into French by Nada Ghosn and published by BookLand Press under the title ‘Le jeune homme qui a vu la Couleur de l’air’.
  4. Al Fatat al-Laylakiya’ (The Lilac Girl) by Ibtisam Barakat from Palestine, SZBA winner in 2020 in the Children’s Literature category; the author personally translated the book into English which was published by BookLand Press. The book was also translated into French by Leila Taher under the title ‘La fille lilas’.
  5. Hadiqat al-Zumurrud’ (The Emerald Garden) by Raja Malah from Morocco, SZBA shortlisted title in 2021 in the Children’s Literature category. The book was translated into English by Nouha Gorani-Homad and into French by Leila Tahir and published by BookLand Press under the title ‘Le jardin d’émeraudes’.
  6. Thalathoon Qasida lil-Atfal’ (30 Poems for Children) by Lebanese author Jawdat Fakhreddin, SZBA winner in the Children’s Literature category in 2014; translated into German by Suleman Taufiq and published by Sujet Verlag under the title ‘30 Gedichte für Kinder’.

His Excellency Dr. Ali bin Tamim, Secretary-General of the SZBA and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, said: “The Translation Grant programme reflects the Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s commitment to promoting Arabic literature, providing readers worldwide the opportunity to access the diversity of our literature. The publications are a window into our Arabic heritage, allowing us to build cultural bridges between us and the rest of the world. Our role is to strengthen the translation movement by selecting outstanding Arabic works with the potential to impact readers in other countries, introduce them to our culture, and strengthen their connection to it.”

Michael Watson, from And Other Stories publishing house in the UK, said: “We were all enthralled when we first read Robin Moger’s translation of Traces of Enayat. Iman Mersal’s following of Enayat al-Zayyat’s footsteps through modern Egypt could easily not have been realised in all its beauty and subtlety, but Moger’s translation, supported by the Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s Translation Grant, has breathed new life into this already-vital work. Since its publication, it has been gratifying to speak to many readers who read it initially in Arabic and have felt that this translation has done the original text justice.”

Leonardo Garzaro, Founding Editor of Editora Rua do Sabão publishing house in Brazil, noted: “When we were looking for Arabic literature to publish in Brazil, it was a pleasant surprise to learn about the initiatives of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre. The Sheikh Zayed Book Award gave us the direction we needed, in collaboration with an excellent selection of authors, who represent the best of Arabic literature produced annually. Furthermore, we received support at all stages of the book, which was fundamental for publication in Portuguese. We can confidently say that the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre’s initiatives are the best in the Arabic literary market.”

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award launched the Translation Grant initiative in an effort to broaden the global reach of Arabic literature. The Award’s Scientific Committee reviews all submitted applications and selects those approved for funding. Applicants can visit the grant’s website to review the application conditions and submit the required documents. Applications are accepted year-round, and applicants are notified of the Committee’s decision within two to three months from the application date.