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Presented By: Comparative Literature

Coming to America: Translating Arabic Fiction in the Age of Global Liberation

Nancy Roberts, free-lance Arabic-to-English translator and editor

Nancy Roberts Nancy Roberts
Nancy Roberts
Join Comparative Literature as we welcome Nancy Roberts, free-lance Arabic-to-English translator and editor on November 11th, 2021 @ 4:30pm in room 4310 of the Modern Languages Building.

Translators of literary works perform numerous functions simultaneously in relation to both a written work and its author. These functions include the linguistic, the cultural, the socio-political and the personal. Varied though they are, these functions might be summed up in the words “partner” and “mouthpiece.” After a brief detour into how her life trajectory led her to the field of Arabic-English translation, Nancy Roberts will relate her attempts to serve as “partner” and “mouthpiece” in the process of translating works originating in Palestine (Ibrahim Nasrallah’s Time of White Horses [زمن الخيول البيضاء], Lanterns of the King of Galilee [قناديل ملك الجليل] and Gaza Weddings [أعراس آمنة], and Ahlam Bsharat’s Codename: Butterfly [اسمي الحركي فراشة]) and Libya (Najwa Bin Shatwan’s, The Slave Yards [زرايب العبيد], and Ibrahim al-Koni’s The Night Will Have Its Say [كلمة الليل في حق النهار]).

Nancy Roberts is a free-lance Arabic-to-English translator and editor with experience in the areas of modern Arabic literature, politics and education; international development; Arab women’s economic and political empowerment; Islamic jurisprudence and theology; Islamist thought and movements; and interreligious dialogue. Literary translations include works by Ghada Samman, Ahlem Mostaghanemi, Naguib Mahjouz, Ibrahim Nasrallah, Ibrahim al-Koni, Salman al-Farsi, Laila Al Johani, and Haji Jabir, among others. Her translation of Ghada Samman’s Beirut ’75 won the 1994 Arkansas Arabic Translation Award; her rendition of Salwa Bakr's The Man From Bashmour (Cairo: AUC Press, 2007) was awarded a commendation in the 2008 Saif Ghobash-Banipal Prize for Translation, while her English translations of Ibrahim Nasrallah’s Gaza Weddings (Cairo: Hoopoe Press, 2017), Lanterns of the King of Galilee (AUC Press, 2015) and Time of White Horses (Cairo: Hoopoe Reprint, 2016) won her the 2018 Sheikh Hamad Prize for Translation and International Understanding. She is based in Wheaton, Illinois.

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