About Us

“Banipal gives me an insight into what is going on in literature across the Arabic-writing world, bringing me notice of new writers, new genres, and new possibilities. My collection of past issues is my Bibliotheca Alexandrina.” – Humphrey Davies

“Banipal is a great international switchboard of human meaning and connection for all of us!” – Naomi Shihab Nye

“Banipal is a laboratory, illuminated by the flashing lights of its initiators. Banipal is a necessary bridge between Arab and Western cultures. Banipal is a valuable gift because it brings the wealth and diversity of Arabic literature to the anglophone world. I wish Banipal has at least twenty more years of energy, recognition and success!” – Joachim Sartorius

“The most open, daring, democratic and attentive magazine of modern Arabic literature” – Anton Shammas

“Not merely a bridge between two cultures but . . . a laboratory that illuminates the styles of modern Arabic writings” – Adonis

"A belief in writing and writers from the Arab world and a desire to keep showcasing that belief keeps Banipal going" – Tamsin Walker, Deutsche Welle (www.dw.com)

"It’s not an exaggeration to say the magazine has become a quintessential bridge between Arab writers and readers in the West, giving unrivaled insight into the region’s tremendously varied cultures." Olivia Snaije, The Daily Star

“A unique voice in the literary world, an exercise in the art of the possible. Long may it remain so.” – Nick March, The National

"Completing 15 years of publishing, Banipal 45 – Writers from Palestine is a gem of literary journalism” – Issa J Boullata

"Banipal has shattered the alienation of Arabic literature from the Anglo-Saxon world! It has succeeded in presenting Arabic literature as it should be presented: far from interests and background influences" – Abdo Wazen

"Banipal valued Arabic literature more than Arabic literature did itself. From the very first, Banipal saw the value and validity of its interaction with other literatures and cultures. There is no doubt that there was love in this venture deep down to its very foundations: love of the literature, love of the language and love of the people" – Abbas Beydoun, As-Safir

“Banipal’s past issues constitute an incomparable archive” – Robert Irwin

About Banipal

Banipal magazine showcases contemporary Arab authors in English translation, from wherever they are writing and publishing. An independent magazine, founded in 1998 by Margaret Obank and Iraqi author Samuel Shimon, Banipal's three issues a year present both established and emerging Arab writers through poems, short stories or excerpts of novels, plus the occasional features of LITERARY INFLUENCES, TRAVELLING TALE. The magazine  features interviews with authors, publishers and translators, book reviews and photo-reports of literary events. From Banipal 41 – Celebrating Adonis each issue includes a Guest Literature or Guest Writer feature on non-Arab, non-Arabic literature as part of Banipal’s mission to promote intercultural dialogue. Each issue has a main theme, as well as being illustrated throughout with author photographs

From the first issue, the three cornerstones of Banipal were that Arab literature is an essential part of world culture and human civilisation; that dialogue between different cultures needs to be continually deepened; and that the joy and enlightenment to be gained from reading beautiful poetry and imaginative writing is an integral part of human existence. These three points have guided Banipal’s translation and promotion of contemporary Arab literature. Literary translation has such an inspirational power to develop dialogue and interaction between cultures; the moment a reader starts to read a translation dialogue begins. Banipal sees itself as a vehicle for intercultural dialogue and exchange that opens a window for UK and other Western audiences on the realities of Arab culture in all its diversity and vibrancy, enabling fruitful discourse to develop, that will lead to further exchange, mutual respect, new writings, deeper understanding, and Arab literature taking its rightful place in the canon of world literature.

Banipal is a magazine for lovers of literature, of world literature, to encourage a wider readership of Arab writers and poets for their own sake, and for both the particularity and the universality of their voices. Banipal publishes Arab writers and poets who write in French, English or German as well as the main Arabic language, presenting the reality of literature from the Arab world and naming it ‘Arab’ rather than ‘Arabic’ literature (which excludes literature by Arab authors not written in Arabic – and consequently many great Arab writers).

Banipal is distributed in the UK and the rest of Europe by Ingram Publisher Services (https://ingrampublisherservices.co.uk/). Copies of the magazine can be bought direct from Banipal, from our distributors, who include Inpress Books, or can be ordered from bookshops in the UK and the rest of Europe.

Banipal takes its name from Ashurbanipal, last great king of Assyria and patron of the arts, whose outstanding achievement was to assemble in Nineveh, from all over his empire, the first systematically organised library in the ancient Middle East. The thousands of clay tablets of Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian writings included the famous Mesopotamian epics of the Creation, the Flood, and Gilgamesh, many folk tales, fables, proverbs, prayers and omen texts.

Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica

& Editor-at-large

Margaret Obank


Samuel Shimon

General Enquiries




ISSN: 1461-5363


Banipal is not merely a bridge between two cultures but, rather, a laboratory of sorts, where the two sides meet – a laboratory that illuminates the styles of modern Arabic writing, while at the same time unleashing the energies that would allow it to engage in the grand literary developments and evolutions. It’s a project that we should participate in, and support!

Banipal is an invaluable and unique resource, both academically and artistically. Banipal has consistently published work by leading older writers who are unknown or little known in English translation, as well as that written by younger writers.
Prof Catherine Cobham, University of St Andrews

"If anybody wants to know what is written in Arabic today but does not know Arabic, he or she just needs to read Banipal. But even for those who, like me, are able to read Arabic, Banipal is a treasure island."
Stefan Weidner

The encyclopedia of Arabic literature that is amassed in Banipal is a staggering accomplishment.
Fady Joudah

An invaluable introduction for the English reader to the varied and unique literatures of the Middle East and the Maghreb which can be found in no other English-language literary magazine.
Marilyn Hacker

I relish each copy I get – beautiful presentation as well as superbly written – who could ask for more?
Mary Selden Evans, Syracuse University Press

The best contemporary Arabic magazine . . . nothing is lost in translation.
Anton Shammas

Banipal is the magazine of the modern creative Arab adventure. It is today our purest voice in a world that is increasingly moving towards ruin.
Mohammed Bennis

Banipal provides an alternative and imperative narrative that reflects the honest spirit of Arab culture
Ram Devenini

“Very important magazine. I read it regularly.”
The late Edward W. Said, in 2000

“Banipal is providing a window on the Arabic-speaking world that is unique and extremely valuable.”
Terry Carlbom,
Former International Secretary, International Pen, in 1999

"Banipal is one of those periodicals you can't wait to get your hands on. A rich digest of modern Arabic literature, each issue explores fresh literary themes in and around the Arab world, focusing each issue on writers and novelists from one particular country. . . . Once again . . . Banipal provides all its promise, as a window into the Arab soul and conscience."
Marwan Asmar
Staff Writer,
The Star newspaper, Amman, Jordan, in 2001


About Banipal Publishing

Banipal Publishing promotes and celebrates publication of contemporary Arab authors in original English or in English translation, and encourages, in the UK and beyond, readership of Arab writers and poets for both the particularity and the universality of their voices. It was founded in 1997 by two people passionate about literature, Iraqi author Samuel Shimon and British editor Margaret Obank, to publish inspiring, unknown works of contemporary Arab authors in English translation (and occasionally in their original English, or other language) through the thrice-yearly Banipal magazine.

Banipal’s three cornerstones, which have been with us since then, are that Arab literature is an essential part of world culture and human civilisation; that dialogue between different cultures needs to be continually deepened; and that the joy and enlightenment to be gained from reading beautiful poetry and imaginative writing is an integral part of human existence. These three tenets, which guide Banipal’s decisions and standards, are continuously strengthened by the inspirational power of literary translation to open dialogue and understanding between cultures – the moment a reader starts to read a translation new dialogue begins.

Over the years a few crucial works were selected to publish as paperbacks under the imprint Banipal Books. In 2019, with the English-language magazine having worldwide recognition and a reputation for consistent quality and choice, Banipal's founders turned their attention to publishing books – in English translation from the Arabic – decisive works from the wealth of Arabic memoir, fiction and poetry being published today, as well as expanding its magazine portfolio to include a Spanish edition and to plan a German one. Banipal’s uniquely selected translations open up a rewarding dialogue with the diverse, rich and empathetic literature coming out of the Arab world and its diaspora.

• Banipal Publishing is the publisher of Banipal Magazine of Modern Arab Literature (ISSN 1461-5361) three times a year. It also publishes works of poetry and fiction by Arab authors, under the imprint Banipal Books. For information and details of the books published click HERE.

In 2020 Banipal started a second edition of Banipal magazine in Spanish language, Revista Banipal de literatura árabe moderna (ISSN 2634-0879). Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic restricting travel etc from March 2020, the magazine was launched from the UK. For more information click HERE. To subscribe, click HERE.