An interesting portrait of (more than an interview with) Roger Allen, the prolific translator of literary works from Arabic, by Hala Halim in the Egyptian paper al-Ahram. Read the opening paragraph below, the rest here.
Between words: Living languageWhile translation between Arabic and European languages has become an even more pressing concern given post-9/11 relations between East and West, it remains difficult to gauge how much translation work is being done in either direction, how relevant it is, and what conditions of production underwrite it. Judging by the lists of titles, the recent plethora of conferences and seminars about and prizes for translation of Arabic literature, it might seem that it is no longer the “embargoed literature” Edward Said wrote about in a 1990 article published in The Nation. Focussing on translation into English — and bearing in mind that the situation differs with regard to other European languages — a number of recently held high-profile meetings suggest that increasing attention is being paid to the subject. As the debates that have taken place among scholars and translators working from and into Arabic demonstrate, much remains to be accomplished in both directions. In the first of an occasional series of profiles of translators working from and into Arabic,Hala Halim talks to Roger Allen about the pleasures and pitfalls of translating modern Arabic literary texts into English.