Imagining Arabic Literature Beyond Politics
Bennington Translates—Fall 2017
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC | Translated literature from non-European countries is often expected to play a dual role, both literary and ethnographic. What books, authors, and stories are missed when we read through a political lens? How might we imagine reading Arabic literature in English without the usual tropes of conflict, oppression, and hardship, which have often provided convenient justifications for US imperialism and military action? How instead might we learn to read Arabic literature on its own terms?
Elisabeth Jaquette’s translation of The Queue, by Basma Abdel Aziz, won the English PEN Translates Award and was longlisted for the Best Translated Book Award. She received the PEN/Heim Translation Grant for her translation of Thirteen Months of Sunrise, by Rania Mamoun. Her shorter works have appeared in several anthologies, and in The New York Times, the Guardian, World Literature Today, and other publications. Forthcoming translations include The Apartment in Bab el-Louk by Donia Maher and The Frightened by Dima Wannous. Jaquette has an MA from Columbia University, a BA from Swarthmore College, and was a CASA Fellow at the American University in Cairo. An adjunct instructor of Arabic translation at Hunter College-CUNY, she is also managing director of the American Literary Translators Association.