The Near Eastern Language and Cultures Department is thrilled to announce that our own Dr. Michael Cooperson has just won the 2020/21 Sheikh Zayed Award Translation Prize for his Arabic to English translation of Impostures by Al-Hariri. The Sheikh Zayed Awards are the most prestigious and lucrative awards in Arabic literature: winners of the translation category each receive a gold medal, a certificate of merit, and a prize of AED 750,000.
The award praises Impostures, published by Library of Arabic Literature in 2020, as “a bold, mature and innovative approach to translation [which] enabled Michael Cooperson to understand Maqamat Al-Hariri more intimately than anyone else, and to appreciate it as a treasure of Arab heritage. Cooperson succeeded in evading the trap of literal translation that can be injurious or altogether destructive to the very heart it is meant to communicate. Moreover, Cooperson has remarkably transferred the sentiments, ideas and expressions wholesale into English, even with a difficult work that is heavily reliant on a rhyme scheme. Another notable fact about this translation is the more liberated use of English with its local dialects, such as those of the UK, Singapore and the USA. This facilitated translating the book at various levels of English-language fluency, culminating in the development of creative and expressive techniques. The translator’s profound familiarity with Arabic literature, as well as his vast experience as a translator, have contributed to the creation of a dynamic work of literature that positions Maqamat Al-Hariri in its rightful place.”
More information about Dr. Cooperson’s success and the winners in the other categories of awards can be found here.