LAF presents: Literary Translation from Arabic into English in the UK and Ireland – a research report

Monday February 6th, 2012

Presentation and debate at the Free Word Centre

London, 60 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3GA
2nd February 2012, 6.30pm – 8.30pm,
Free, refreshments will be served

LAF and the Free Word Centre invite you to a presentation of the report by co-authors 
Alice Guthrie and Alexandra Büchler, followed by a panel debate and Q & A. Speakers include translators of Arabic fiction Professor Marilyn Booth, Dr Peter Clark OBE and publishers Harry Hall (Haus Arabia) andAshley Biles (Saqi).

LAF’s recent report Literary Translation from Arabic in the UK and Ireland is an in-depth look at the last twenty years of Arabic literature in English translation in the UK and Ireland. Drawing on a broad range of sources, the report traces the trajectory of contemporary literary works translated from Arabic, from the initial selection of titles, to the work of translators and editors, through to book sales and critical reception. It addresses a range of relevant issues such as translator training and translation quality control, and public and private support for translation.

As could be expected, the journey of books into a culture generally resistant to translation offers rich areas for discussion and the authors look forward to your feedback.

The report is part of a larger project mapping translation in the Euro-Mediterranean region, conducted in partnership with the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for Dialogue Between Cultures and Transeuropéenes and with support from the Culture Programme of the European Union. Read more about the Euro-Mediterranean Translation Programme.

The report is available to download our publications site: Alongside the other two reports conducted as part of this project focusing on Hebrew and Turkish literature.

The event is free but please reserve your place by emailing us at

For directions please visit:


Peter Clark has degrees from the Universities of Keele and of Leicester. He has known the Arab world since the early 1960s and worked in seven different Arab countries with the British Council between 1967 and 1999. He translated eight books from Arabic – six fiction and two history – between 1980 and 2005, as well as short stories, poetry and plays. He has written obituaries of Arab writers (including Nizar Qabbani, Sa’dallah Wannus and Mahmud Darwish) for The Guardian. He has written books on Marmaduke Pickthall (1986), on Wilfred Thesiger (1992) and on Istanbul (2010). His latest book is Dickens’s London, written to commemorate Dickens’s two hundredth birthday in February 2012. He has edited Emerging Arab Voices 1 (2010) and Emerging Arab Voices 2 (2012) and has reviewed over a hundred books for Asian Affairs. Peter is a founder trustee of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, and has been a Contributing Editor of Banipal since it started in 1998.

Marilyn Booth holds the Iraq Chair in Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Edinburgh, where she is head of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies and is also Joint Director of the Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World (CASAW). She has most recently published an edited book, Harem Histories: Envisioning Places and Living Spaces, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2010. In addition to her scholarly books and essays she has translated over a dozen works of Arabic fiction and memoir, including My Grandmother’s Cactus: Stories by Egyptian Women (1991), Points of the Compass: Stories by Sahar Tawfiq (1995, winner of the University of Arkansas Press Arabic Translation Prize), Disciples of Passion, by Hoda Barakat (2005), Thieves in Retirement, by Hamdi Abu Golayyel (2003), and four winners of the Naguib Mahfouz Prize: The Open Door, by Latifa al-Zayyat (2000), The Tiller of Waters, by Hoda Barakat (2001), Leaves of Narcissus, by Somaya Ramadan (2002), and The Loved Ones, by Alia Mamdouh (2006). In addition to having won prizes for her translation she has been a judge for the University of Arkansas Press Arabic Translation Prize and the Saif al-Ghobashi-Banipal Prize. Her translation of Elias Khoury’s As Though She Were Sleeping will appear with Archipelago (2011) and she is also translating a novel by Hassan Daoud.

Harry Hall began working at Haus Publishing as a Sales Assistant in 2006. He was appointed a director of Arabia Books on its founding in 2008 and worked with the AUCP in establishing the list. He is also a director of the new imprint Swallow Editions, which aims to translate and publish in English previously unpublished works by emerging writers from the Arab world, selected by Rafik Schami. Hall was also a part of the British Council group that visited Cairo in 2009.

Ashley Biles is Sales and Marketing Manager at Saqi Books, joining the company in February, 2007. Previously he was employed as Sales Director at Signature Books, a free lance sales team. He has worked in the industry for 25 years, working as a buyer for a London based book wholesaler. He also has retail experience within the trade. Ashley Biles was also a member of the Group Board of Notting Hill Housing Trust for two and a half years, and is currently an active shareholder of the Notting Hill Housing Group.