Rasha Adly’s novel The Girl with Braided Hair, translated by Sarah Enany (Hoopoe, 2021), described as “delightful” by Publishers Weekly, was selected as one of the five shortlisted works for the 2021 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation.
Based on historical events, two women, living within two time frames—2012 and 1798—Yasmine, a modern day art historian, and Alton German, Bonaparte’s artist and writer in residence, are bound together by an enigmatic painting. Yasmine has been working on restoring an unsigned portrait of a strikingly beautiful girl from the Napoleonic Era when she discovers that the artist has embedded a lock of hair in the painting, something highly unusual. The mysterious painting came into the museum’s possession without record, and Yasmine sets out to uncover the secret concealed within this captivating work.
In their statement, the Banipal Prize judges said of the translation: “Sarah Enany’s subtle and beautifully crafted translation is a wonderful vehicle through which to introduce readers to such a significant addition to the tradition of the Egyptian and Arabic novel.”
Enany is an assistant professor in the Department English Language and Literature at Cairo University. She is also the translator of The Book Smuggler by Omaima Al-Khamis (Hoopoe, 2021) and Diary of a Jewish Muslim (Hoopoe, 2018) and Menorahs and Minarets (Hoopoe, 2017) both by Kamal Ruhayyim.
This year’s judges are Roger Allen (chair), professor emeritus of Arabic and comparative literature, University of Pennsylvania, Rosemarie Hudson, founder publisher, HopeRoad Publishing, Ronak Hosni, professor of Arabic and translation studies at the American University of Sharjah, and Caroline McCormick, director, Achates Philanthropy.
The Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize aims to raise the profile of contemporary Arabic literature as well as honor the important work of individual translators, bringing the work of established and emerging Arab writers to the attention of the wider world. Inaugurated in 2006, the prize was established by Banipal, the magazine of modern Arab literature in English translation, and the Banipal Trust for Arab Literature.
The prize is an annual award of £3,000, made to the translator(s) of a published translation in English of a full-length imaginative and creative Arabic work of literary merit published after, or during, the year 1967 and first published in English translation in the year prior to the award.