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January 2017


AUC Press translator wins Sheikh Hamad Award for Translation

Translator of Arabic literature Michael Cooperson has won the 2016 Qatar’s Sheikh Hamad Award for Translation and International Understanding for his rendition of Virtues of the Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal by Ibn al-Jawzī (New York University Press, 2013).

Michael Cooperson, 5th from the right, during the award ceremony held in Doha on December 13


Cooperson, a professor of Arabic language and literature at the University of California, Los Angeles, is also the translator of Khairy Shalaby’s modern Arabic novel The Time-Travels of the Man Who Sold Pickles and Sweets, first published the AUC Press in 2010 and again in 2016 under our new fiction imprint Hoopoe.

The Sheikh Hamad Award, established last year in Doha, seeks to promote Arab and Islamic culture and “rid it of unfair distortions and stereotyping.” Its mission is to develop international understanding and promote exchange between Arabic and other world languages through the medium of translation.

“I wanted to learn as many difficult languages as possible,” explained Cooperson during an interview, “and Arabic began with A, so it was on the top of the list,” adding that he grew up speaking Greek “because my mother’s family is Greek.” Today he also speaks Persian, French, and Spanish.

Currently Cooperson is writing a book on the cultural history of the early Abbasid period and translating the Maqāmāt of al-Ḥarīrī for the Library of Arabic Literature of New York University Press. He is the author of Classical Arabic Biography: The Heirs of the Prophets in the Age of al-Ma’mun (Cambridge University Press, 2000) and Al-Mamun (Oxford: OneWorld Books, 2005).

Cooperson holds a PhD and an MA in Near Eastern languages and civilizations from Harvard University. 

Click here to read an interview with Michael Cooperson talking about the challenges of translating The Time-Travels of the Man Who Sold Pickles and Sweets, a novel set in medieval Egypt.

December 19, 2016



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