The Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation 2023 – the Annual Lecture and the 2023 winner

Key information

6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
SOAS, University of London
Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre

About this event

The SOAS Centre for Translation Studies, the SOAS Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies & the Banipal Trust for Arab Literature invite you to an evening celebrating the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation with the 2023 Winner and the Annual Lecture. 

  • 6.00pm: A welcome drink and bookstall will start the evening in the Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre Foyer.
  • 6.30pm: Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre

Renowned poet and poetry translator Khaled Mattawa gives the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize Annual Lecture on: Stations of Translation: Power, Eros, and Betrayal.

Luke Leafgren, Winner of the 2023 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for his translation of Mister N by Lebanese novelist Najwa Barakat, gives readings from the winning work and is in conversation with Chair of Judges Ros Schwartz.

Following Q&A with physical and online audience, there will be a reception in the Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre foyer. The sit-down event will be streamed online and available to all who register for access. It is a free event.

About the speakers

Khaled Mattawa is the author of six books of his own poetry, and has translated twelve volumes of contemporary Arabic poetry to English. His translations of AdonisSelected Poems (2010) won the 2011 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, and his translation of Saadi Yousse'f selected poems, Without an Alphabet, Without a Face, won the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation (2003). His critical study, Mahmoud Darwish: The Poet's Art and His Nation was a finalist for the Pegasus Prize. 

He was a founding contributing editor of Banipal, Magazine of Modern Arab Literature, and is a co-founder of the Arete Foundation of Arts and Culture, which supports and promotes the creative arts in Libya. Mattawa is the recipient of many Fellowships and awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship and the Academy of American Poets Fellowship among many others. He is the William Wilhartz professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan where he teaches in the Creative Writing program.

Ros Schwartz is an award-winning translator from French. Acclaimed for her new version of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince (published in 2010), she has over 100 fiction and nonfiction titles to her name. She has translated a number of Francophone writers including Tahar ben Jelloun, Fatou Diome and Ousmane Sembène, and most recently Max Lobe’s A Long Way from Douala (HopeRoad).

The French government made Ros a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2009, and in 2017 she was awarded the John Sykes Memorial Prize for Excellence by the Institute of Translation and Interpreting. For the past two decades, Ros has been energetically involved in translator training. She gives masterclasses worldwide and is co-founder of a literary translation summer school, first held at Birkbeck in 2011, and later at City University and now at the University of Bristol.

The Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation

The prize is an annual award of £3,000 for literary translation from Arabic to English, made to the translator(s) of a published translation in English of a full-length imaginative and creative Arabic work of literary merit published after, or during, the year 1967. It was first awarded in 2006, and was then the only prize in the entire world for published books translated from Arabic.

The judging panel comprises four judges, two who read only the English translations, for the 2023 prize they are the chair of judges Ros Schwartz and Barbara Schwepke, and two who read both the Arabic originals and the English translations, this year they are Tony Calderbank and Sarah Enany.

The prize is administered by the Society of Authors in the United Kingdom, alongside all other UK prizes for literary translation from languages that include Dutch, French, German, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish, plus a prize for first translation into English from any other language. All are administered by the Society of Authors and awarded annually at a joint ceremony hosted by the Society. The prize is wholly sponsored by the Saif Ghobash family in memory of their husband and father, the late Saif Ghobash (21 October 1932 – 25 October 1977)