“The most open, daring, democratic and attentive magazine of modern Arabic literature” – Anton Shammas
BANIPAL's 50th issue is published
Banipal's Summer issue on Prison Writing is timely and much needed. We are proud that the 50th issue of Banipal is celebrated with thought-provoking testimonies and texts by some of the most renowned and respected of Arab authors from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Palestine and Syria, authors who have never stopped defending the right to free expression, tolerance and social justice. Their struggles continue today, and are ever more needed, ever more vindicated in this strange world we live in, where religious fundamentalists and bigots of all persuasions are in ascendance, dictatorships and unelected bureaucracies are still in control, and whistleblowers defending basic human rights are on the run.
Banipal’s work over the last 17 years has been to be witness to the living literary scene in the Arab world, commissioning translations of newly published works to bring to the Anglophone world the richness and variety ever present in today’s Arab literary landscape.
This massive work of 50 issues has been produced by a small, dedicated team, backed by a brilliant army of translators, consulting and contributing editors, reviewers . . . and of course, all the authors. We salute them all.
Cover painting by the New York based Iraqi painter Ahmed Alsoudani
For full list of contents and links to contributors' pages, go to current issue page
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The Whole Shadow of Man
– the story of Alessandro Spina’s Libyan Epic
“A gentleman dropped by. He looked like an Arab prince, tall and handsome. He left a history of the Maronites . . .”
That was in 1993. The “gentleman” was a reclusive author living in Italy whose nom de plume was Alessandro Spina. The “history” was the novels and works he had been quietly publishing since the early 1960s and which charted the history of Libya from 1911, when Italy invaded the sleepy Ottoman province, to the time of the petrodollar boom of 1966. The Italian publisher Morcelliana eventually convinced him to republish in 2006 all 11 works, by then out of print, in a 1,250-page omnibus edition I confini dell’ombra: in terra d’oltremare (The Confines of the Shadow: In Lands Overseas). For more information about the Italian edition, click here
Alessandro Spina died in July 2013, just two weeks before André Naffis-Sahely finalised an agreement to translate the entirety of the opus The Confines of the Shadow with a London publisher. The translator was faced with a conundrum: he knew virtually nothing about the author’s life except that “Alessandro Spina”was a nom de plume and that the author had “spent half a century eluding the limelight, refusing invitations to make public appearances or to concede interviews”. As this had to be remedied for the Afterword, André set about unravelling the narrative of Spina’s life.
To read The Whole Shadow of Man, André Naffis-Sahely's account of discovering the story of Alessandro Spina and the Libyan Epic, click here
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The 2014 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation has received 17 entries, all of them novels.
The translators of the 17 entries are: Kareem James Abu-Zeid, Roger Allen (2 novels), Sinan Antoon, Aida Bamia, Raphael Cohen (2 novels), Robyn Creswell, Humphrey Davies, Michelle Hartman, Paula Haydar, Kay Heikkinen, William M Hutchins, Nancy Roberts (2 novels), Maia Tabet and Michael K. Scott, and Max Weiss. For more details of the entries, click here
The newly appointed judging panel comprises the current co-winner Jonathan Wright, Paul Blezard, Lulu Norman and Samuel Shimon. The winner will be decided at a meeting towards the end of this year, and awarded early in 2015 along with the other literary translation prizes administered by the UK's Society of Authors. For more information about the Judging Panel, click here
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