Current Issue: Banipal 75

Banipal 75

Celebrating 25 Years of Arab Literature

This is the last issue of Banipal, the independent literary magazine, marking 25 years of translating and publishing contemporary literature by Arab authors. Arabic literature will always need a magazine like Banipal. In fact, more than one. We're closing at No 75, not because the magazine is no longer necessary but because we, as central producers, can no longer continue. We no longer have the physical energy necessary, and believe that for such a magazine to continue, there must be new blood, a young staff, with the same enthusiasm and conviction that we have had all these years. We leave behind a massive archive of diverse  literature by umpteen different authors that will continue to give readers an endlessly enthralling world of modern Arabic literary works.

Margaret Obank, Publisher

For all the treasures of Banipal 75, click here

Order Banipal 75 Celebrating 25 Years (Autumn/Winter 2022)


With this breakthrough debut collection Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear, Palestinian poet Mosab Abu Toha, Founder Director of the Edward Said Library in Gaza, joins an extraordinary group of poets, intellectuals, and writers who have given voice to the resilience of the Palestinian people since the Nakba in 1948.

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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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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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Banipal Magazine's complete digital archive of issues 1 to 75 is available to libraries and all institutions, either through an annual subscription or perpetual access for a one-off fee. The archive will always remain a unique, invaluable and indispensible resource for anyone wanting to delve into and study the contemporary literature of the Arab world.

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How to describe Banipal magazine’s last issue?  A sad, sad occasion? A continuation of the best aspects of the magazine over the years?   It is all of that and more, and features a number of our long-standing editors, translators and reviewers.

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Margaret Obank, Banipal magazine’s co-founder, and writer and publisher Peter Mortimer, invite you to join them for an grand evening of poetry and fiction at Newcastle's famous Lit & Phil Library to celebrate Banipal magazine's 25 years of translating and publishing authors from all over the Arab world and beyond.

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Banipal's first audiobook, The Mariner, by Taleb Alrefai, hits the soundwaves in an exciting new co-publishing venture between Spiracle and Banipal Books.  Narrated by actor Raad Rawi, and launched as a Spiracle special December edition, it is a thrilling story about the life of Kuwait's most famous dhow ship captain. 

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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. This unique feature of Banipal 72 on Iraqi Jewish writers includes short stories, excerpts from novels, and poems by 17 authors, all of Iraqi descent and of different generations and languages.

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In homage to Etel Adnan, who died on 14 November 2021, and who had been a consulting editor of Banipal almost since its inception, we publish this interview online after its publication in Banipal 74 (Summer 2022). The interview with Etel Adnan was made by poet and editor Nouri Al-Jarrah 25 years ago when he was founder editor of Al-Katiba magazine. 

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The passing of the great Yemeni poet and moderniser Abdel Aziz al-Maqalih on 28 November 2022 at the age of 85 shocked so many in the Arab world and particularly in his own country of Yemen. 

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The Banipal Trust for Arab Literature has announced that the 2021 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation is awarded to Sarah Enany for her translation of the novel The Girl with Braided Hair by Rasha Adly, published by Hoopoe Fiction.

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The winner of the 2021 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, this novel – authored by Rasha Adly and superbly translated by Sarah Enany – is an absorbing tale of two women living parallel lives over 200 years apart, their narratives connected by a painting.

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Shortlists for the 16th edition of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, in a record-breaking year for submissions, are announced for Literature, Children's Literature, Young Author, Translation, Arab Culture in Other Languages and Publishing and Technology. Laureates will be celebrated at Abu Dhabi Louvre on 24 May 2022.

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The Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA) announces the winners for its 16th edition across seven categories, selecting six literary figures, intellectuals and translators, along with Egypt’s Bibliotheca Alexandrina, for the top honours.

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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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The 2023 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation is awarded to Luke Leafgren for his translation of Mister N by Najwa Barakat (And Other Stories), and called by the judges "the standout choice for its magnificent translation". 

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The Banipal Trust for Arab Literature has announced the shortlist of the 2023 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation with a selection of works whose authors aim "to make sense of the ongoing horrors and atrocities, while at the same time attempting to ensure that individual voices do not get lost in the background". 

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Banipal is giving free access to the digital edition of Banipal 15/16 from 2002/2003 with its major feature on PALESTINIAN LITERATURE. The link, https://bit.ly/3R2GzGq to this double issue, published 20 years ago, will expire on 31 Dec 2023 14:54 GMT.

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The Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA) at the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC) has revealed the longlists for its 18th edition (2023-2024) in the categories of Literature (11 titles), Young Author (15 titles), Children’s Literature (16 titles), and the new category of Editing of Arabic Manuscripts (9 titles).

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From Banipal 45 – Writers from Palestine, Banipal presents some selected works which are accessible permanently on our webiste. They include the introdcution to the feature, poems by four different poets, short stories by two fiction writers and an interview.   

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The Tent Generations, Palestinian Poems presents works by 16 Palestinian poets written over the past seven decades, giving the always-needed historical context for both the Palestinian experience under Israeli military rule and occupation, and the experience of dispersion and displacement from their homeland following the Nakba of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and the subsequent wars of 1967 and 1973.

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Banipal 73 presents two stories, translated and introduced by Graham LIddell, from Emile Habiby's short fiction Sextet of the Six-Day War, with the stories set in the aftermath of the 1967 war that ended with the Naksa, or Setback, when Israel captured Palestinian, Syrian, and Egyptian territory.

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The acclaimed debut novel of Kuwaiti author Taleb Alrefai, first published in Arabic in 2000, is now published in English translation. Available as paperback and eBook.

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Our Digital Partner Exact Editions is promoting National Poetry Day, today 5th October, by featuring seven different issues of its poetry magazines. Banipal 57 – Syria in the Heart is the choice from the magazine's digital archive. Enjoy it free for one month from today.

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This Mauritanian novel in English translation, the first from Arabic, is an unforgettable journey into the heart of the country by the well-known Mauritanian journalist and writer Abdallah Uld Mohamadi Bah.

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The Banipal Trust for Arab Literature has announced the new Judging Panel and the Entries for the 2023 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation. The Trust is delighted to see an increased number of entries, 20, in this 18th year of the prize, which was the first in the world to award translators of published translations of contemporary Arabic literature in English translation.

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A single line in Aramaic on a tombstone in the Arbeia Roman Fort Museum in South Shields fired Nouri Al-Jarrah’s imagination as he discovered the story of Barates of Palmyra, who fell in love with a young Celtic woman he named Regina (Queen), freeing her from Roman slavery, and marrying her, before she died young, aged 30.

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Joint winners for the 2022 award, say the judges, is "he best way to honour two extremely strong novels which each distinguished themselves in different ways".

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The Tent Generations, Palestinian Poems gathers together works by selected Palestinian poets who wrote about their experience under Israeli military rule and Israeli occupation, as well as dispersion and displacement from their homeland following the 1948 Nakba and the subsequent wars of 1967 and 1973. The poets span and represent different generations and narratives, different backgrounds, and different locations, a number of whose voices have not been heard previously in English.

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Hamdi Abu Golayyel’s novel, The Men who Swallowed the Sun, translated by the late Humphrey Davies and published by Hoopoe Fiction, is an entertaining picaresque tale, which focuses on Egyptian migrants who make the difficult, grueling journey to Italy through Libya.

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Through the eyes of a recent Bedouin migrant to the city, we are introduced to Building No. 36 in a relatively new sprawling neighbourhood outside Cairo.

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The winners of the 2023 Sheikh Zayed Book Award hail from Iraq, Algeria, France, Tunisia, and Egypt and write across a variety of genres, from poetry and crime fiction, to history and linguistics.

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Holding Saïd Khatibi's latest novel, Nihayat al-Sahra’, in one’s hands is like holding the pair of scissors pictured at the base of the cover: its sharp edges keep readers alert amidst the cascade of events that unfold throughout the narrative. Khatibi’s masterful retelling of the events assembled between its pages creates a perfect mosaic.

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This third novel by Algerian writer and journalist Saïd Khatibi, translated from the Arabic by Paul Starkey, is a masterful rumination on war and genocide, place-memory, independent inquiry and self-actualization.

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The Tent Generations, Palestinian Poems brings together the works of 16 Palestinian poets over the past seven decades, giving profound expression to the Palestinian experience under Israeli rule and Israeli occupation. They span and represent different generations and narratives, different backgrounds, and different locations, with some of their voices not heard previously in English, and most other works not previously translated into English. 

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The Sheikh Zayed Book Award 2023 has announced shortlists in the 3 categories of Literature, Young Author, and Literary & Art Criticism for its 17th edition – nine works from Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco.

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The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) reveals the longlist of 16 novels in contention for the 2023 prize, which will award $50,000 to the ultimate winner. The longlist has been chosen from a total of 124 submissions by a panel of five judges chaired by Moroccan writer and novelist, Mohammed Achaari.

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Banipal's publisher Margaret Obank invites all friends, editors, translators, and above all, all readers and lovers of world literature, to celebrate 25 Years of Banipal Magazine of Modern Arab Literature – translating and publishing modern literature from the Arab world in English. A great way to start 2023.

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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 passing of Professor Abdel Aziz al-Maqalih on 28 November 2022 at the age of 85 shocked so many in the Arab world and particularly in his own country of Yemen. He is remembered for his poetic modernism and his persistent zeal and innovation in education.  Here some Summer Sonnets from Banipal 36 – Literature in Yemen Today (2009).

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“At its most powerful literature should act as an imaginative passport into other worlds, a conduit to take us inside the lives of others, inviting us for a moment to stay and be part of an unknown world. Words transport as do good translations. At their best translations also take us elsewhere, offering readers stories in cultural landscapes they would not otherwise encounter. The Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation makes this journey possible,” says prize judge Prof. Susheila Nasta.

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On 13 November 2021, just over a year ago, we learned the shocking news that Humphrey Davies, our dear friend and one of the greatest translators of Arabic literature to English, had died, succumbing to cancer. Today we remember him and his legacy.

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This Summer Banipal issue turns its attention to modernism in modern Arabic poetry. Nearly 170 pages of the issue are devoted to bringing some of the Arab world’s major poetic innovators and critics to the fore. Poets writing about poets, and poets interviewed by poets.

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In his latest novel, A Crime That Agatha Christie Didn’t Write, Iraqi author Yousif Abu Al-Fawz weaves a together two main narratives into a mystery crime story, breaking the timelines between them as it progresses.

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Things I Left Behind is young Palestinian author Shada Mustafa’s debut novel – a free-flowing narrative that interrogates the memories of growing up – the trauma of her parents' divorce, the Qalandia checkpoint, falling in love – that keep forcing themselves out to be reckoned with before she can leave them behind.

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We report with great sadness the news of the passing of Iraqi poet Hassab al-Sheikh Ja‘far.  In his memory and in tribute to his life and works, we are sharing the poems we published in Banipal 46 – 80 New Poems (Spring 2013),  translated by Camilo Gómez-Rivas.

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Palestinian actor and director Mohammad Bakri is interviewed by Imad Khachan in New York: "My love for acting came from my love of movies as a child. My love for theatre came from my love of literature and classical Arabic poetry, and especially pre-Islamic poetry, with its rich imagery and soaring imagination."

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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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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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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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