Today, the Sharjah International Book Fair’spre-fair professional program wrapped up with a few speeches, an interesting (brief) presentation from Jon Malinowski about PubMatch.Com, and a pair of “matchmaking” sessions. The idea behind these matchmaking sessions was to pair publishers, agents, and rights-buyers across languages and cultures so that they could discover more about one another’s literatures.
Fortunately or unfortunately, there weren’t enough Arab publishers to go around: Several Anglo publishers complained that they’d come to Sharjah to meet with the world’s Ahmed al-Zayadis, Mohamed Hashims, and Fatima al-Boudis, and were less interested in rights-sellers from Kuala Lumpur or book distributors from the UAE.
Nonetheless, the positive side is that a number of publishers expressed a distinct interest in seizing hold of wonderful Arabic books, giving them high-quality translations, and causing all to live happily ever after.* And, even if some publishers didn’t have the “match” of their dreams, each publisher, agent, rights-seller, and ne’er-do-well made off with an orange booklet of 30-odd suggested Arabic-language titles available for translation.
It’s a somewhat eclectic list (some of the suggestions are mine, some not), and unfortunately doesn’t include excerpts from the novels, just descriptions. Next year, isA.
The suggested books include:
The Bus of Good People, Najwa Barakat (all rights available except French).
Dull Pain, Alaa Khaled (all rights available)
Tantoureya, Radwa Ashour (all rights available)
Intensive Care, Ezzedine Choukri Fishere (please note preferred transliteration)
Time of White Horses, Ibrahim Nasrallah (all rights available except English; coming soon in English from AUC Press)
Sons of Gebelawi, Ibrahim Farghali (all rights available)
Prayer for the Family, Renee Hayek (all rights available except English)
Tumour, Ibrahim al-Koni
The Andalucian House, Waciny Laredj
America, Rabee Jaber (all rights available except English; however, many other Jaber novels are available, and I already heard from one publisher who is getting in front of you to snap them up)
Kings of the Sands, Ali Badr
Women of the Wind, Razan Naeem al Maghrabi (all rights available)
Origin and Branch, Sahar Khalifeh (all rights available except English)
The Leafy Tree, Umaima al-Khamis
Guards of the Air, Rosa Yaseen (all rights available except German and French)
Throwing Sparks, Abdo Khal (all rights available except English)
Black Taste, Black Smell, Ali al-Muqri
Street of Affections, Abdulla Bin Bakheet (all rights available)
It’s Called Love, Alawiyah Sobh (all rights available except Italian)
The Handsome Jew, Ali al-Muqri
The Grub Hunter, Amir Tag Alsir (all rights available except English & Italian, excerpt here)
The Man from Andalucia, Bensalem Himmich
Faten, Fatima Sharafeddine (all rights available; note that this is a YA novel, clearly and beautifully written)
180 Sunsets, Hassan Daoud
There are also a number of children’s picture books at the back of the orange booklet, including the infamous النقطة السوداء, by the even more infamous Walid Taher, which more or less predicted the Egyptian revolution. I believe that Bloomsbury Qatar has the English-language rights to this timeless and timely picture book, but I’m not sure.
Have your own suggestions or rebuttals?
Well, add them below.
I would also like someone to please rescue Sonallah Ibrahim’s Stealth, which was briefly available from Aflame Books, before their demise. This is not a charity case; it’s a brilliant novel in excellent translation. Please and thank you.