Current Issue: Banipal 72

Banipal 72

Iraqi Jewish Writers

This unique feature on Iraqi Jewish writers includes short stories, excerpts from novels and poems by 17 authors, all of Iraqi descent. For several centuries, Iraqi Jews were key contributors to Iraq’s rich social and cultural tapestry – active in all areas of life as novelists, poets, essayists, journalists, musicians, composers, singers, and artists. Sadly, all this came to a tragic end with the massive transfer-emigration and forced displacement of Iraqi Jews in the 1950s to Israel. The texts and essays here raise universal questions of belongingness, exile, diaspora, cross-national affinities, and cross-linguistic possibilities – all were either translated directly from Arabic or Hebrew, with one written originally in English.

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A little later than expected, this coincidentally very timely themed Banipal 70 presents a major feature on Jerusalem's great Palestinian author Mahmoud Shukair. Originally planned for last year, it was decided to postpone it until now as a gift to this well-loved Jerusalemite on his 80th birthday – which took place in March this year.

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Sargon Boulus had the rare experience of being an Arab poet who was part of the American poetry scene since he arrived there in late 1960s.  This interview with him by Banipal's then editor Margaret Obank appeared in the first issue of Banipal magazine, February 1998.

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Sargon Boulus, before he became a well known poet, was a writer of short stories, publishing them in magazines and newspapers in Baghdad and Beirut. This story, the first to be translated into English, is called “Wandering the Cities While Dead”. It is also the first of some online only texts – short stories, articles or poems – that will be appearing on www.banipal.co.uk from time to time.

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The road from Zagreb to Sarajevo is a little over four hundred kilometres. I studied the road map in the morning and reckoned that the journey would take about five hours, taking account of the time spent stopped at the Bosnian border guard post. I started the engine and headed south, towards another life, another horizon . . .

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This third novel by Libyan writer Najwa Bin Shatwan, The Slave Yards (Zarayib al-Abid), shortlisted for the 2017 International Prize for Arab Fiction, is set in 19th century Libya, then under Ottoman rule. Its title refers to the real-life encampments on the outskirts of Benghazi where most of the country’s slaves and former slaves were held at the time.

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Ruth Padel writes:

The island of Lesbos, also called Mytilene, is on the edge of Europe. You see Turkey three and a half miles away, on the hazy horizon . . . Until 2015, though, the island was most famous for three things; its petrified forest, the best ouzo in Greece, and poetry.

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This year’s Saif Ghobash Banipal Translation Prize Lecture will be given by the well-known Palestinian novelist, short story writer and film director, Liana Badr. In her talk, she will describe how she grew up in the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Jerusalem, where welcoming strangers and visitors of whatever nationality or religion was an established tradition. 

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The Sheikh Zayed Book Award, one of the Arab world’s most prestigious and lucrative literary prizes, has announced the winners of its 14th edition across seven key categories. 

And we are pleased to share with you the wonderful news that Banipal Magazine has won the Award in the Publishing and Technology category. It is a tremendous accolade for the magazine, for the years of translating and publishing contemporary works by Arab authors.

The Award Ceremony was lifestreamed on the Award's YouTube Channel on 16 April.

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Join our Fellows, Ali Bader, Najwa Bin Shatwan and Hammour Ziada, for a free celebration on Zoom, 23 September 2020, at 16:00 pm (BST, -1 GMT) with readings from their works and discussion.  The annual Banipal Visiting Writer Fellowship was established in October 2016 for a published author writing in Arabic to spend a term at St Aidan's College, University of Durham.

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"Mansi, A Rare Man in His Own Way will show another side of Tayeb Salih to readers who know his classic novel Season of Migration to the North. This is a flavourful and entertaining memoir of his friendship with a shape-shifting, rule-breaking character who treated life as an 'endless laugh'."           Boyd Tonkin

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During this pandemic of coronavirus we are endeavouring with our distributors to bring you both print and digital editions of Banipal 67.

The main focus of Banipal 67 is the celebrated Lebanese and international author Elias Khoury, who is an essayist, editor, teacher, playwright and short story writer, but above all a renowned novelist. The feature opens with three excerpts from his latest novel Stella Maris, the second part of the trilogy Children of the Ghetto, and closes with an excerpt from his as yet untranslated first novel. Our thanks to all the contributors to this powerful issue.

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At Banipal we are very happy to see a welcome increase in works translated over the years as we continue doing what we started 22 years ago – following the Arab literary scene as to what is being written, discussed and published, and trying to reflect that in the Banipal issues. Although we are mindful of what is translated, and review as many as possible, our interest is in Arab literary creativity.

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Today we learned the shocked news that Humphrey Davies, our dear friend and one of the greatest translators of Arabic literature to English, has died

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Award-winning translator Jonathan Wright explores the odd case of Arabic literature, written in a language that is no one's mother tongue, with a morphology that has hardly changed for more than a millennium

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Sargon Boulus (1944-2007) remains one of the best-known and influential of contemporary Arab poets. Born into an Assyrian Iraqi family, and growing up in Al-Habbaniyah, Kirkuk and Baghdad, he started publishing his own work in 1961 in the ground-breaking Shi'r (Poetry) magazine in Beirut.

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Banipal Books publishes four new works of literary translation from Arabic by authors from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq and Oman – two novels, a poetry and an open work.

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On International Translation Day, we present news of what Banipal is getting up to with its various projects for contemporary Arab literature in translation

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Like his contemporaries, Ihsan Abdel Kouddous fought, through his writings and his stances, for a progressive Arab culture liberated from the centuries-old legacy of backwardness and decline, and open to noble human values.

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The Banipal Trust announces today the judging panel and entries for the 16th year of Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation.

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The great internationalist Iraqi poet Saadi Youssef is no more. He passed away early Saturday morning, 12 June 2021, at his home in Harefield on the outskirts of London.

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In these anxious and crazy times of the coronavirus pandemic, when nothing is certain, a digital subscription to Banipal will not fail you, giving you access to every single issue, from the current issue, back to the beginning.

Digital Banipal throws open an ever widening window on the diverse contemporary Arab literary scene through its unlimited access to the complete archive of issues from Number 1, February 1998.

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This edition of the award is the largest in its history in terms of submissions: 2,349 nominations were received in 2020/2021, an increase of 23% compared to the previous edition. The list of winners this year includes seven authors and researchers from Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and the United States of America, in addition to a Lebanese publishing house.

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Revista Banipal de literatura árabe moderna, established in March 2020 by Banipal magazine, is proud to announce the launch, with Banipal’s digital partner Exact Editions, of a digital archive and digital subscription for individual subscribers, and for institutions, libraries and arts organisations.

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The 2020 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation is awarded to Kay Heikkinen for her translation of the novel Velvet by Huzama Habayeb, published by Hoopoe Fiction.

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Velvet is Huzama Habayeb’s third novel and marks a high point in her writing career, with the Arabic original, Mukhmal, awarded the 2017 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature. It was hailed by the judges as “a new kind of Palestinian novel” that wrote about the “everyday lives of Palestinians”, and about the “human condition” through its portrayal of woman.

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Beirut . . . a new city, then, whose port began to expand in the mid-nineteenth century and that lives today a moment not unlike the agony of death, as though the monstrous explosion on 4 August 2020 did not simply blast the city and destroy almost one third of it, but came also to deliver the kiss of death to an Arab Levant murdered by occupation and tyranny.

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Two new fiction works in translation just out from Banipal Books, The Mariner by Kuwaiti author Taleb Alrefai, translated by Russell Harris, and Goat Mountain by Habib Selmi, translated by Charis Olszok. Both available as paperback and eBook.

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