On December 13, 2023, ArabLit & ArabLit Quarterly announced the winners of the 2023 ArabLit Story Prize to be the NELC Department’s own Dima El Mouallem for her translation of Ibrahim al-Koni’s “The Desert Also Keened” (الذهبي النحس طائر). Truly a well-deserved and noteworthy achievement! The translation served as her final project for a UCLA translation course instructed by Professor Michael Cooperson. Prior to this award, El Mouallem was recognized by ArabLit in 2021 where she had previously submitted her translation of Said Takieddine’s “Camphor Forestland” (غابة الكافور).
ArabLit’s three judges had high praise regarding El Mouallem’s translation of “The Desert Also Keened”:
Yasmine Zohdi – “In her elegant and evocative translation, Dima El Mouallem gives new life to Ibrahim al-Koni’s timeless tale of temptation and grief; of tragedy wrought by the collision of two opposing realms never meant to intersect.”
Muhammad El-Hajj – “A memorable fable of motherhood and loss, this exquisite piece of prose by Ibrahim al-Koni has found its match in Dima El-Mouallem’s expertly crafted translation.”
Shakir Mustafa – “The story spins a myriad of mythologies about seeming and being, and ends up shaking the illusions of a gilded but harmful iconography.”
Congratulations Dima El Mouallem!