24 March 09 | Chad W. Post

This post originally appeared at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair blog.

One of the most admirable aspects of the UAE is how much money is spent on cultural activities. The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage does a remarkable job funding events (such as the book fair) and helping to cultivate the apperception and production of art in the region.

In relation to the book fair, this philanthropic drive manifests itself in a number of ways, especially in the funding of translations.There are two main translation funders in the region: Kalima (based in Abu Dhabi) and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (based in Dubai).

Kalima was established just a few years ago by the aforementioned Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage to implement the vision of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, with the goal of reviving translation within the Arab world. Kalima’s core program is to translate 100 books a year into Arabic from a variety of disciplines, including history, science, and literature.

The plan is that every year Kalima will announce 100 titles that it wants to support. They then identify the translator, work at obtaining rights, and find the right Arab publisher to work with to assure the translated title reaches an appropriate audience.

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation has a similar mission of improving the number and quality of translations into Arabic, but approaches the situation in a slightly different fashion. Tarjem is their main translation program, and has an even more ambitious goal that Kalima, in that they want to sponsor 365 titles a year. (In other words, a translation a day!) Rather than identify the works to translate and involve themselves in the publishing project directly, Tarjem accepts applications from publishers and for the most worthy projects the foundation purchases 1,500 copies to distribute to libraries and schools throughout the Arab world.

In addition to this publishing program, the foundation runs the Turjuman program, designed to improve and encourage translation in the Arab world by providing training courses for translators and scholarships that provide translators with the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in translation. There are other programs as well, including “Cultural Dialogue” programs with a variety of countries, a “Book in a Capsule” program that provides hurried readers with 20-page summary versions of prominent business books, and the Dubai International Children’s Book Fair.

The activities of Literature Across Frontiers is a great complement to these two foundations. LAF represents approximately twenty cultural organizations from across Europe that provide translation subsidies to publishers interested in translating their works. In addition, these organizations frequently produce pamphlets and other promotional materials to spread the word about their literature. Alexandra Buchler of LAF came to the fair to make more Arab publishers aware of these programs in the hope that there will be an increase in translations into Arabic from the “smaller languages” of Europe, such as Catalan, Finnish, or Latvian. Her overall goal is to help create networks between European publishers and Arabic ones, in hopes of developing relationships that lead to greater cultural exchanges.

Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of Finnish to Arabic translators out there (for example–this is true with a ton of countries), so LAF is also trying to create partnerships to support the development and training of translators.

Finally, Next Page is also at the fair to spread the word about “Encounters,” a program of the foundation to encourage translation and exchange between Arabic and the languages of Eastern Europe. Through this program they hope to establish better relationships between publishers in the two regions and supply translation subsidies to publishers of both areas. (A very logical and great complement to what LAF is doing.)

In addition to subsidies, Next Page produces some fantastically informative reports. Ina Doublekova gave me a copy of a recent study on “Translations of Books from Arabic in Four East European Countries after 1989,” which is really fascinating. According to the opening summary, over the last decade the average number of titles translated from Arabic into Bulgarian, Hungarian, Polish, and Serbia, is between 0 and 3 titles per year. (The entire study is available online at http://www.npage.org.) Hopefully thanks to Next Page—and its energetic and brilliant director Yana Genova—this situation will improve greatly over the next few years.

Overall, it’s very encouraging to uncover so many organizations all working to improve the flow of books both into and out of Arabic. It’s my belief that publishing across borders makes the world a better place–and right now there’s not enough publishing of this sort in the world.a


Comments are disabled for this article.
....
Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World
Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders
Reviewed by Kaija Straumanis

Hello and greetings in the 2017 holiday season!

For those of you still looking for something to gift a friend or family member this winter season, or if you’re on the lookout for something to gift in the. . .

Read More >

The Size of the World
The Size of the World by Branko Anđić
Reviewed by Jaimie Lau

Three generations of men—a storyteller, his father and his son—encompass this book’s world. . . . it is a world of historical confusion, illusion, and hope of three generations of Belgraders.

The first and last sentences of the first. . .

Read More >

Island of Point Nemo
Island of Point Nemo by Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès
Reviewed by Katherine Rucker

The Island of Point Nemo is a novel tour by plane, train, automobile, blimp, horse, and submarine through a world that I can only hope is what Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès’s psyche looks like, giant squids and all.

What. . .

Read More >

The Truce
The Truce by Mario Benedetti
Reviewed by Adrianne Aron

Mario Benedetti (1920-2009), Uruguay’s most beloved writer, was a man who loved to bend the rules. He gave his haikus as many syllables as fit his mood, and wrote a play divided into sections instead of acts. In his country,. . .

Read More >

I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World
I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World by Kim Kyung Ju
Reviewed by Jacob Rogers

Kim Kyung Ju’s I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World, translated from the Korean by Jake Levine, is a wonderful absurdist poetry collection. It’s a mix of verse and prose poems, or even poems in the. . .

Read More >

Kingdom Cons
Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera
Reviewed by Sarah Booker

Yuri Herrera is overwhelming in the way that he sucks readers into his worlds, transporting them to a borderland that is at once mythical in its construction and powerfully recognizable as a reflection of its modern-day counterpart. Kingdom Cons, originally. . .

Read More >

The Invented Part
The Invented Part by Rodrigo Fresán
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

Imagine reading a work that suddenly and very accurately calls out you, the reader, for not providing your full attention to the act of reading. Imagine how embarrassing it is when you, the reader, believe that you are engrossed in. . .

Read More >

A Simple Story: The Last Malambo
A Simple Story: The Last Malambo by Leila Guerriero
Reviewed by Emilee Brecht

Leila Guerriero’s A Simple Story: The Last Malambo chronicles the unique ferocity of a national dance competition in Argentina. The dance, called the malambo, pushes the physical and mental limits of male competitors striving to become champions of not only. . .

Read More >

The Little Buddhist Monk & The Proof
The Little Buddhist Monk & The Proof by Cesar Aira
Reviewed by Will Eells

Aira continues to surprise and delight in his latest release from New Directions, which collects two novellas: the first, The Little Buddhist Monk, a fairly recent work from 2005, and The Proof, an earlier work from 1989. There are a. . .

Read More >

Agnes
Agnes by Peter Stamm
Reviewed by Dorian Stuber

The narrator of Peter Stamm’s first novel, Agnes, originally published in 1998 and now available in the U.S. in an able translation by Michael Hofmann, is a young Swiss writer who has come to Chicago to research a book on. . .

Read More >

The next few events from our Translation Events Calendar: See More Events >