The 2011 PEN Translation Prize went to Ibrahim Muhawi for Journal of an Ordinary Grief by Mahmoud Darwish (Archipelago Books).

The PEN Translation Prize is awarded to book-length translations from any language into English. The prize has been supported since 1963 in recognition of the art of the literary translator—the first American award to do so. The most recent recipients are: Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky for their translation of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, R. W. Flint’s translation of The Moon and the Bonfires by Cesare Pavese, Margaret Sayers Peden’s translation of Sepharad by Antonio Muñoz Molina, Philip Gabriel for his translation of Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, and Sandra Smith for her translation of Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky.

2011 Judges

Jonathan Cohen, Barbara Harshav, Sara Khalili

From the Judges’ Citation

“Ibrahim Muhawi has given us the opportunity to read in English the stunning testimony, Journal of an Ordinary Grief, by the great Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish (1941–2008). Originally published in Arabic in 1973, this collection of autobiographical essays is an extremely important book. Darwish wrote it while under house arrest in Haifa prior to his exile from Israel in 1971. It allows us to hear the voice of a people that must be heard, now in particular. Darwish’s masterful, captivating, poetic prose reveals at once the personal and national experience of Israeli Arabs. Through his own story he bares the life of a conquered people, who struggle with deep love of homeland—’distant and near,’ he says—and longing to return. Muhawi’s translation is a triumph of language. His work is beautifully written in English, based on a text from an entirely ‘other’ linguistic world. It is a faithful literary translation of the highest caliber that is artfully made of authentic speech with music and cadences true to the Arabic of Darwish.”


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