Library of Arabic Literature

Davies' Translation of Yalo Wins 2010 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize

In its fifth year, the Saif Ghobash – Banipal Prize is administered by the Society of Authors in the UK and awards an annual prize of £3,000 GBP. Submitted works must be a published translation in English of a full-length imaginative and creative Arabic work of literary merit published in the 35 years prior to the submission of the translation, and first published in English translation in the year prior to the award. The first award of its kind, the Saif Ghobash – Banipal Prize was established in 2005 by Banipal, the magazine of modern Arab literature in English translation, and the Banipal Trust for Arab Literature. It is now sponsored by Omar Saif Ghobash in memory of his father, the late Saif Ghobash, who was passionate about Arabic literature.

The judges were unanimous in their decision to award Davies first prize. Impressed by the sensitivity of his translation, they also applauded his "simple but exquisitely crafted prose lines." As judge Elliott Colla, associate professor in the department of Arabic and Islamic studies at Georgetown University, said, "Humphrey Davies' seamless translation hides the skill with which he works here. The language of this novel is notoriously difficult. Davies renders this difficulty in a fluent British idiom, but never at the expense of the complexities of the original."

This is something the Davies-Khoury duo has achieved before. Khoury's Gate of the Sun, also translated by Davies, won the Saif Ghobash – Banipal Prize in 2006. Davies was also a runner-up this year for his translation of Sunset Oasis by Bahaa Taher.

The Banipal Trust for Arab Literature website

The 2010 Saif Ghobash – Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation has been awarded to Humphrey Davies, renowned Arabic translator and a member of the international advisory board for the NYUAD Institute-funded Library of Arabic Literature. Davies won for his translation of Yalo by Elias Khoury, who also has ties to NYUAD. In addition to being a Lebanese novelist, playwright, and critic — and editor of Mulhak, the weekly literary supplement of the An-Nahar in Beirut — Khoury taught Modern Arabic Literature during NYUAD's first January Term in Abu Dhabi.