Translating Culture | ترجمة الثقافة
Some writers and translators have articulated a burden unique to the transmission of Arabic into English; others articulated joy. Translators must slip on a second skin, capturing the author’s voice without voice from one language to another. But translation is not literalist — there is context and there is an audience to consider. And while English is no longer a Shakesperean language in the present, Arabic remains as such. A translator works to preserve language, sound, and cadence that is otherwise not familiar to English readers. In this panel, three translators come together to discuss their craft, their burdens, and their joys in making literary work accessible in English.
Maia Tabet is the translator of Elias Khoury’s first novel to be published in English, Little Mountain, and of White Masks, she has also translated Laila Baalbaki, Zakariya Tamer, and Sinan Antoon.
Nariman Youssef translated Inaam Kachachi’s The American Granddaughter and Donia Kamal’s Cigarette Number Seven. She has contributed to Words Without Borders, Banipal, and the poetry anthologies Beirut39 and The Hundred Years’ War.
Mohammad Sawaie selected and translated poems by Samih al-Qasim, Fadwa Tuqan, Marwan Makhoul, Harun Hashim Rasheed and 12 other Palestinian poets, some of whose poems have not been previously translated into English. The collection is published in The Tent Generations, featured in a COFFEE & BOOKS session during the festival.