NEA translation grants were announced yesterday ($300,000 worth) and I was pleased to see the stories of Luay Hamza Abbas on the to-be-translated list. I talked about his stories in May after two of them appeared in Banipal 37.
مبروك to translator and grant-winner Yasmeen Hanoosh!
It’s wonderful to see a grant for short stories, which don’t sell as well as novels, and so are less likely to get the attention of publishers. Peter Clark underlined this problem in his “Arabic Literature Unveiled: Challenges of Translation,” published in 2000. He wrote that he’d become interested in a Syrian author who was then in his seventies. Clark pitched a translation to an (unnamed) publisher, who said: “There are three things wrong with the idea. He’s male. He’s old. And he writes short stories. Can you find a young female novelist?”
Luay Hamza Abbas is not old, of course. But he probably won’t show up to interviews wearing an electric blue minidress and aggressive heels.
Hanoosh will receive $12,500 to support her translation of Closing His Eyes, the fourth collection of stories from Abbas.
According to the NEA:
Two of the 17 stories in this collection have been selected for publication in five different languages. The title story, “Closing His Eyes,” was selected for the 2006 Kikah Best Short Story Award in London. Abbas’s work is known for its unique, individualized perspective on the treatment of the themes of violence, identity, and authoritarianism.
Hanoosh was born in Basra in 1978; her translations have appeared in The Iowa Review and Words Without Borders. Also, her translation of Muhsin Al-Ramli’s Scattered Crumbs was published by University of Arkansas Press in 2003. You can read an excerpt of Scattered Crumbs on WWB.
You can read Abbas here and there online, including on Qadita, which has his ثمة، أبدًا، جدار. I don’t think you can read him for free in English. But, if you can’t wait for Hanoosh’s translation, you can get a copy of Banipal 37.