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Wiam El-Tamami wins Harvill Secker Young Translators' Prize

29th September 2011

Egyptian Wiam El-Tamami was announced as the winner of the second Harvill Secker Young Translators' Prize at a ceremony at Foyles Charing Cross Road, London, on Wednesday September 28th.

As the winning translator she will receive GBP 1,000, a selection of Harvill Secker titles, GBP 100 in Foyles tokens and a year's subscription to Banipal Magazine.

She flew to London from Cairo to collect her award, commenting: 'I'm thrilled! The story was a wonderful choice for a translation competition; it presented just enough technical challenges while leaving plenty of room for creative interpretation.

'I really enjoyed travelling through the author's text and mine to find the right mood, voice and style.'

The chosen language for the 2011 prize was Arabic and entrants were asked to translate the short story 'Layl Qouti' (Gothic Night) by Egyptian writer Mansoura Ez Eldin.

The prize was judged by author Penelope Lively, translator Anthony Calderbank, journalist Maya Jaggi and Harvill Secker editor and founder of the prize Briony Everroad.

There were a total of 92 entries from 18 countries: Syria, the UK, the US, Egypt, Israel, Croatia, Tunisia, Oman, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Belgium, Palestine, Iraq, Algeria, Lebanon, Switzerland, Kuwait and South Africa.

The winning story is published online by Granta: For photographs from the event visit

The judges commented: 'Mansoura Ez Eldin's story presented many challenges to the translators with its shifting tenses and dreamlike structure. The winning translator not only rose to the challenges of the text, fully comprehending the author's Arabic, but also produced a beautiful piece of writing.

'The translation displayed an elegance of style alongside fidelity to the Arabic original, yet the story is wonderfully articulated in the translator's own voice.'

Winner Wiam El-Tamami is 27 years old and has lived in Egypt, Kuwait, England and Vietnam. After completing a BA in English & Comparative Literature at the American University in Cairo in 2004, she obtained an MA in Writing for Children at the University of Winchester. She is currently a freelance editor of literary translation at the AUC Press.

Harvill Secker is also delighted to announce a partnership with Crossing Border Festival and their The Chronicles programme, an annual showcasing of young, exciting, international writing talent which takes place in the Netherlands and Belgium each November.

Wiam El-Tamami will attend the 2012 festival as part of her prize, and Crossing Border will extend this invitation to future winners of the Harvill Secker Young
Translators' Prize. 

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