Translation Workshop – Cairo, January 2010

What is it?
An intensive one week residential literary translation training programme that will provide the opportunity for hands-on translation practice, alongside exploration of literary translation as a bridge between the Arabic and English language publishing industries. 

It is organised by the British Council,
the British Centre for Literary Translation,
Arts Council England

and Penguin Arabia,
with the support of Banipal Magazine.

The longer term aims:
•  to create and maintain a network of talented new generation translators who are plugged into the international publishing and theatre network
•  Combat the shortage of translators from English to Arabic and Arabic to English in order to encourage the quality and quantity of contemporary Arab and British fiction and plays in translation.
•  To support industry professionals looking to work with English and Arabic translators
•  Engage industry professionals and partners to support and influence the local infrastructure
The basic model involves a week-long, residential programme of hands-on translation practice, supplemented with seminars and lectures addressing various aspects of the theory, practice and business of literary translation. The hands-on practice is offered in the form of language-specific workshops, led by an experienced, practicing translator.
Each workshop group comprises no more than 8 participants, who are generally early- to mid-career translators, led by an expert translator who possesses a great deal of experience and a significant reputation in the field. The author of the piece of text to be translated is also a vital part of the workshop group. Participants are organized into Arabic-to-English and English-to-Arabic language groups, depending on their mother tongue or language of habitual use.  The group works together to produce a consensus translation of the selected piece of text, which may be a play, a short story or a chapter from a novel.
The translation workshops are supplemented throughout the week by seminars on the business of translation and the relationship with all facets of the publishing industry, given by leading representatives in the field.
Networking is also a key part of the week. Participants have the opportunity to interact with publishers, editors, agents and authors, and to establish a community of translators for future collaboration and support.
Participants are required to take part for the entire duration of the course, arriving in Cairo on Sunday 24 January, and departing on the morning of Saturday 30 January.  There will be allotted free sessions for sightseeing/exploring the city during the course of the week, but as part of this residential intensive programme, participants will be expected to attend every session.
Participant profile
Participants are expected to be at differing stages in their careers, but will all have a proven enthusiasm for and some background in literary translation. The most experienced participants will already have full-length works of translation published in the target language, but will be looking for skills input and publishing know-how to raise their abilities to the next level. The less experienced students will have a demonstrable interest in literary translation, and a desire to become more professionally active in this field. Academic qualifications will bolster an application, but will not be the sole criteria upon which decisions are made. They will have experience of translating either novels or for the theatre.  For this course we will not be including the translation of poetry.
Participants are likely to be solicited from:
•   Formal and informal groupings of literary translators (online communities, academic associations and institutes, and others)
•   Editors and translators known to local contacts and stakeholders as enthusiastic and committed literary translators with a bright future
Potentially suitable participants should be contacted as soon as possible and encouraged to apply.  In the case of this pilot, we are inviting applications through a wide network of contacts, which will be selected by a steering committee made up of British Council, Arts Council, Penguin Arabia and the British Centre for Literary Translation.  In this first year, the return airfare, accommodation and cost of the one-week course will be free of charge to participants.

How to apply
Participants should submit the following to Rachel Stevens at
•   CV/Resume in English, including professional and academic qualificationsCover letter in English, indicating their area of interest, their current involvement with literary translation, and their reasons for joining the course
•   A sample translation of up to 1000 words of a piece of literature (attaching both the original text and the translation)
 For more information, please call Rachel Stevens on +44 (0)20 7389 3165, or email

The British Council is the United Kingdom's international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. It is a registered charity; 209131 (England and Wales) SC037733 (Scotland), building engagement and trust for the UK through the exchange of knowledge and ideas between people worldwide.

Published Date - 29/11/2009