The Banipal Trust for Arab Literature

The Library and Book Club

The Banipal Arab British Centre Library of Modern Arab Literature (BALMAL) is a unique literary resource in the heart of London, containing volumes of fiction, poetry, plays and memoirs by Arab authors translated into English or in the English original. This collection began at the 2008 London Book Fair where, for the first time ever, Arab publishers were the market focus. Banipal and the London Book Fair collaborated on a display of literary works donated by publishers. These books formed the foundation of BALMAL, which formally opened in January 2010 with a special reception the evening after the Award ceremony of the 2009 Saif Ghobash Banipal Arabic Literary Translation Prize. The library has been growing ever since and now contains over a 1000 volumes of literature.

It is updated regularly with new novels, collections of poetry and of short stories, plays, autobiographies, memoirs and some volumes of literary criticism. New books in the Library 

Each year there is a steady stream of new books – fiction and poetry – in translation added to the library shelves. We try to make sure that all the entries each year to the Saif Ghobash Banipal Translation Prize in the Library, are there, ready to be borrowed. There is a special display each year for the entries into the Prize, then of the shortlisted works and finally the winning translation – which for the 2018 prize, awarded in Spring 2019, was The President's Gardens by Muhsin Al-Ramli, translated by Luke Leafgren.

Among the new books in the Library:

Farewell, Damascus by Ghada Samman  Tales of Yusuf Tadrus by Adel Esmat  All The Battles by Maan Abu Taleb  Using Life by Ahmed Naji

Some of the popular titles are:

The Bamboo Stalk (paperback edition)

The Bamboo Stalk(paperback and hardback editions)
by Saud Alsanousi, translated by Jonathan Wright

cover of The Longing of the Dervish by Hammour Ziada

The Longing of the Dervish by Hammour Ziada,

also translated by Jonathan Wright.

The Book of the Sultan's Seal by Youssef Rakha, 
the winning novel of the
2015 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation
translated by Paul Starkey. Click here for more information.

Land of No Rain
Land of No Rain
 by Amjad Nasser,

translated by Jonathan Wright, and commended for
the 2015 Prize. 
Click here for more information. 

Dates on my Fingers by Muhsin al-Ramli

Become a Library member and you can borrow up to three books. Among the books you can find  all the 29 entries for the 2015 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, including Dates on my Fingers by Muhsin al-Ramli (to see library entry click here). 

You can find all the information about the Library by clicking here

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Browse the catalogue by Author or by Title:  

 Author •  Title

BALMAL is easy to join – just a one-off fee of £10 and you get your library card and membership with which you can borrow up to three books. If you want to browse and visit, just contact the Arab British Centre on 020 7832 1310 or email info@arabbritishcentre.org.uk to make an appointment. The Library is open 9.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Thursday and 9.30am to 4.30pm on Fridays. For more information click here.

Some of the books in the BALMAL LibraryWe look forward to the library encouraging the reading of contemporary literature in translation from the Arab world. Banipal maintains an up-to-date list of translated literary works by Arab authors – which at present includes over 1,200 titles – with the goal of adding as many as possible to the library. The fictionpoetryplays and memoirs  are mostly translated from Arabic, although works in any language produced by authors of Arab heritage are included, so the library also contains literature translated from French, German and Dutch, and some works originally written in English. There are also volumes of literary criticism.

BALMAL library is managed by the Arab British Centre and also includes a collection of works about the Arab world covering history, politics, travel, art and cookery. There is a total of over 2,000 titles. For more information click here.

The books include the entries for each year's entries of the Saif Ghobash Banipal Translation Prize and  that includes all the prizewinning titles from 2006.  This year's entries are available on short loan of one week, instead of the usual three.

• The Corpse Washer, written and translated by Sinan Antoon – winning title of the 2014 prize.
• Azazeel by Youssef Ziedan, translated by Jonathan Wright, and A Land Without Jasmine by Wagdi al-Ahdal, translated by William M Hutchins, were co-winning titles for the 2013 prize.
• A Muslim Suicide by Bensalem Himmich, translated by Roger Allen – the winning 2012 title. The two other novels by Bensalem Himmich translated by Roger Allen are also in the library. To go to their entries, click on The Polymath and/or The Theocrat.


Other authors with works in the library:


BALMAL Library shelvesMohamed el-Bisatie died in 2012 after a long illness. His five works in English translation are in the Library: 


Houses Behind the Trees, translated by Denys Johnson-Davies
Clamor of the Lake
, translated by Hala Halim
Over the Bridge
, translated by Nancy Roberts
Hunger
, translated by Denys Johnson-Davies
Drumbeat
, translated by Peter Daniel

Banipal Recommends

– great reads in the library, recommended by translators, editors and reviewers for Banipal.

Click the book titles to read the library entries.  

Click the Review title to read the reviews.

Recommended by translators

Humphrey Davies (twice a winner and twice a runner-up of the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation):
 

Beer in the Snooker Club
Beer in the Snooker Hall by Waguih Ghali.

“A mournful and truculent account of the tensions between Egypt and the West, insider and outsider, idealism and disillusionment, that is as fresh today as when it was written in the years following another revolution.”

Barbara Romaine (runner-up in the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for her translation of Spectres by Radwa Ashour):
 



Season of Migration to the North
Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih, translated by Denys Johnson-Davies.

“I (doubtless in company with others) would like to propose Denys Johnson-Davies's gorgeous translation of Season of Migration to the North, by Tayeb Salih.  The novel itself has of course become a classic of modern Arabic literature; as for the English rendition by Johnson-Davies, it is one of the best translations from Arabic to English (possibly THE best) that I have ever seen.  My husband, who is a native speaker of Arabic, loves this novel, too; like me, he has read it in both Arabic and English and admires the translation about equally with the original.”


Adonis Selected Poems translated by Khaled Mattawa


In the Library

Adonis: Selected Poems
translated by Khaled Mattawa
Read the Review by Stephen Watts in Banipal 41.


The Human is the Poetry of the Universe

 
Yalo by Elias Khoury, translated by Humphrey Davies
In the Library

Yalo by Elias Khoury
translated by Humphrey Davies
Read the Review reviewed by James Dalglish in Banipal 40.

“Blood was. The hawk was. Pain was.”


Front cover of In A Fertile DesertIn the Library

In a Fertile DesertSelected, translated and introduced by Denys Johnson-Davies
Read the Review by Alice Johnson in Banipal 42

A Comprehensive Collection


Baghdad Blues by Sinan AntoonIn the Library

 The Baghdad Blues by Sinan Antoon


Read the Review by Alfred Corn in Banipal 36.

Evoking more than devastation and death


 Wild Mulberries by Iman Humaydan YounesIn the Library

Wild Mulberries by Iman Humaydan Younes

Translated by Michelle Hartman

Read the Review
 
by Aamer Hussein in Banipal 33.

The map and mosaic of Sarah's journey

Banipal Book Club logo

The meetings take place

6.30-8.00pm
Meetings Room & Library
Arab British Centre
1 Gough Square, EC4 A 3DE

Email bookclub@banipal.co.uk for information about future meetings

Do you know about the library of modern Arab literature (BALMAL)?

Lifetime membership of the library costs just £10 – click here for more details.

To browse online the rich collection of Arab fiction in the BALMAL Library, click here

BANIPAL BOOK CLUB
PREVIOUS MEETINGS:

2019

30 APRIL 2019
The book under discussion was Using Life by Ahmed Naji, translated by Ben Koerber. Shortlisted for the 2018 Saif Ghobash Banipal Translation Prize.
19 FEBRUARY 2019
The book under discussion was The President's Gardens by Muhsin al-Ramli, translated by Luke Leafgren. This book was the winner of the 2018 Saif Ghobash Banipal Translation Prize.
23 JANUARY 2019
The book under discussion was Baghdad Noir, edited by Samuel Shimon, who spoke at the meeting about creating this book of 14 noir short stories.
 

2018

12 DECEMBER 2018

The book under discussion was In the Spider's Room by Muhammad Abdelnabi, translated by Jonathan Wright.

1 NOVEMBER 2018

The book under discussion was Concerto Al-Quds by Adonis, translated by Khaled Mattawa.

6 SEPTEMBER 2018

The book under discussion was Men in the Sun by Ghassan Kanafani, translated by Hilary Kilpatrick, and the film adaptation The Dupes. This event supported SAFAR - A Literary Journey through Arab Cinema.
25 JULY 2018
The book under discussion was Midaq Alley, by Naguiib Majfouz, translated by Trevor Le Gassick, and the 1995 Mexican film adaptation El Callejón de los Milagros (‘Alley of Miracles’, the Spanish name for the novel), starring Salma Hayek and transferring the location to Mexico City.
31 MAY 2018
The book under discussion was Farewell Damascus by Ghada Samman, translated by Nancy Roberts.

25 APRIL 2018
The book under discussion was Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi with the translator Jonathan Wright.
29 MARCH 2018
The book under discussion was Embrace on Brooklyn Bridge by Ezzedine C. Fishere, translated by John Peate.
29 JANUARY 2018
The book under discussion was the winning book of the 2017 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize, The Book of Safety by Yasser Abdul Hafez translated by Robin Moger.
2017
29 NOVEMBER 2017
The book under discussion was The Dove's Necklace by Raja Alem translated by Katharine Halls & Adam Talib.
26 OCTOBER 2017

The book under discussion was Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North.
ned the discuss

23 MAY 2017

The Bamboo Stalk (paperback edition) The Bamboo Stalk hard cover edition

The book under discussion was the 2017 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize-winning book The Bamboo Stalk by Kuwaiti author Saud Alsanousi.

The winning translator Jonathan Wright joined the discussion.

30 March 2017

Cover of Dates on my Fingers

Dates on My Fingers by Muhsin Al-Ramli, translated by Luke Leafgren

9 February 2017

No Knives in the Kitchens of this City by Khaled Khalifa

No Knives in the Kitchens of this City by Khaled Khalifa, translated by Leri Price

2016

24 November 2016

cover of The Longing of the Dervish by Hammour Ziada

The Longing of the Dervish by Hammour Ziada, translated by Jonathan Wright

2015

10 December 2015

The 29 Entries of 2015 SGBP showing winner

The 29 entries for the 2015 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation

All the entries are available in the BALMAL Library here

For a list of all the 29 entries, click here

28 October 2015

Sykes-Picot: The Legacy, Five Plays

Sykes-Picot: The Legacy Five Modern Short Plays by Hannah Khalil, Hassan Abdurazzak and Joshua Hinds, published by Arts Canteen, London

With reading of The Tune is Always Better on the Outside by Hassan Abdulrazzak, with actresses Taghrid Choucair-Vizoso and Dilek Rose.

The book is available in the BALMAL Library here

4 June 2015

front cover of African Titanics

AFRICAN TITANICS by Abu Bakr Khaal translated by Charis Bredin

Charis opened discussion about the book and translating it. Friends of the author attended. Click here for a photo sent on to the author.

Click here to read a review of the book in Banipal 52.

Click here to read a review in The National newspaper

19 March 2015

Front cover of The Corpse Washer

THE CORPSE WASHER by Sinan Antoon, translated by the author

Winner of the 2014 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation

22 January 2015

Front cover of The Arch and The Butterfly

The Arch and The Butterfly by Mohammed Achaari, translated by Aida Bamia

Read the Tanjara Blogspot report on the 24 February celebration at Waterstone's Piccadilly with the author/translator Sinan Antoon

To read the review in Banipal 50, click here.

The Arabic original jointly won the 2011 International Prize of Arabic Fiction.

2014

Front cover of Other Lives

Other Lives by Iman Humaydan, translated by Michelle Hartman

Front cover of House of the Wolf

House of the Wolf by Ezzat El Kamhawi translated by Nancy Roberts

Cover of Banipal 49

Entered for 2014 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize

Banipal 49: A Cornucopia of Short Stories

Purchase Banipal in PRINT or DIGITAL

The Silence and The Roar

The Silence and the Roar by Nihad Sirees, translated by Max Weiss

2013

Front Cover of A Land Without Jasmine

A Land Without Jasmine by Wajdi al-Ahdal translated by William M Hutchins, joint winner of the 2013 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation

Vertigo front cover

Vertigo by Ahmed Mourad, translated by Robin Moger

Front cover of In Praise of Hatred by Khaled Khalifa

In Praise of Hatred by Khaled Khalifa, translated by Leri Price

Short Stories from the Arab World - storytelling with Banipal Book Club at Kensington Central Library, at Nour Festival of the Arts

To read or download the stories, click here

Front cover of Endings by Abdulrahman Munif

Endings by the late Abd al-Rahman Munif (1933-2004), translated by Roger Allen

cover of arabian nights and days

Arabian Nights and Days by Naguib Mahfouz, translated by Denys Johnson-Davies

Front  cover of A Muslim Suicide

A Muslim Suicide by Bensalem Himmich, translated by Roger Allen

The Open Door front cover

The Open Door by Latifa al-Zayyat

the tiller of waters

The Tiller of Waters by Hoda Barakat, translated by Marilyn Booth

front cover of Sarab Affan

The Journals of Sarab Affan by Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, translated by Ghassan Nasr

Azazeel front cover

Azazeel by Youssef Ziedan, translated by Jonathan Wright

Gold Dust Front Cover

Gold Dust by Ibrahim al-Koni, translated by Elliott Colla

Out of It cover

Out Of It by Selma Dabbagh

First Meeting 19th April 2012

The Tobacco Keeper

The Tobacco Keeper by Ali Bader, translated by Amira Noweira

Our meetings have been featured in Brownbook and The National.