This year’s Sheikh Zayed book award translation prize has been awarded to US translator, Michael Cooperson, who translated Maqamat Al-Hariri.
The translated work, titled “Imposters”, was lauded by the book award’s panel as a “bold, mature and innovative approach to translation that enabled Michael Cooperson to understand Maqamat Al-Hariri more intimately than anyone else, and to appreciate it as a treasure of Arab heritage”.
The 15th award ceremony, which took place at the end of April, saw authors, researchers and publishers from countries as diverse as the US and Saudi Arabia declared the overall winners from more than 2000 original nominations.
The awards are as follows:
• Publishing and Technology Award – Jar Al Jadeed a Lebanese publishing house
• Young Author Award – Dr. Asma bint Muqbel bin Awad Al-Ahmadi
• Contributions to the Development of Nations Award – Dr Saeed El-Masry
• Literature Award – Iman Mersal
• Cultural Personality of the Year – Jurgen Habermas
• Literary Art and Criticism Award – Khelil Gouia
• Children’s Literature Award – Mizouni Bannani
• Arabic Culture in Other Languages Award – Tahera Qutbudden
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, congratulated this year’s winners on Twitter, saying,
“The sharing of knowledge has always been a treasured part of our culture and heritage, and we are proud to celebrate the diverse contributions that these individuals have made through their work.”
The Sheikh Zayed Book Award website states that Cooperson’s translation of Al-Hariri has “succeeded in evading the trap of literal translation” and “has remarkably transferred the sentiments, ideas and expressions wholesale into English”.
Interestingly, Cooperson’s translation offers a “liberated use of English with its local dialects, such as those of the UK, Singapore and the US” which “facilitated translating the book at various levels of English-language fluency, culminating in the development of creative and expressive techniques”.
His “profound familiarity with Arabic literature” and “vast experience as a translator” meant Cooperson was able to create a “dynamic work of literature”.
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