Robin Moger wins the 2017 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize

Martin Reed

Martin Reed

Martin leads the SoA's Communications team. He oversees our strategic communications and campaign-based activities, including PR, social media, events and partnerships.

10 January 2018

The 2017 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation has been awarded to Robin Moger for his translation of The Book of Safety by Yasser Abdel Hafez (Hoopoe Fiction). The winner will be presented with their £3,000 award at the Society of Authors Translation Prizes on 1st March at the British Library.

Robin Moger is a translator of contemporary Arabic prose and poetry, currently living in Cape Town, South Africa. He has translated several Arabic novels into English, including All the Battles by Maan Abu Talib (Hoopoe Fiction, 2017), Otared by Mohammad Rabie (Hoopoe Fiction, 2016) and Egyptian author Nael Eltoukhy’s novel Women of Karantina (AUC Press, 2014). He was also one of the translators for Writing Revolution: The Voices from Tunis to Damascus (I B Tauris,2013) which won the 2013 English PEN Award for outstanding writing in translation.

Moger’s translation was chosen from an impressive shortlist of four, which included The Dove’s Necklace by Raja Alem, translated by Katharine Halls and Adam Talib (Duckworth), No Knives In The Kitchens Of This City by Khaled Khalifa, translated by Leri Price (Hoopoe) and Limbo Beirut by Hilal Chouman, translated by Anna Ziajka Stanton (Centre for Middle Eastern Studies, University Texas Press).

Commenting on the winning translation, the judges said: 

“Robin Moger has created an alluring translation of The Book of Safety by Egyptian author and journalist Yasser Abdel Hafez that captures beautifully the moods, paces, rhythms and nuances of the Arabic original and, ruthlessly but lovingly, lures us into the conflicting, conspiratorial, and violent world that it draws.

Moger makes us believe this is our world, the very world we live in, and we care about the characters and their shenanigans, look out for whispers that will give their secrets away, and cannot wait until we know their fate. Moger is a relatively new voice in Arabic literary translation and the full force of his talent is certain to be felt in the years to come. His work will make a tremendous impact on how Arabic literature is received in English translation.” 


This year’s judging panel included the writer and literary figure Dr Alastair Niven (Chair), author and editor Peter Kalu, Wen-chin Ouyang, Professor of Arabic at SOAS, and journalist Salam Sarhan.

To view the full press release, please click here


The prize is an annual award of £3,000, made to the translator(s) of a published translation in English of a full-length imaginative and creative Arabic work of literary merit published after, or during, the year 1967 and first published in English translation in the year prior to the award. 

The Prize aims to raise the profile of contemporary Arabic literature as well as honouring the important work of individual translators in bringing the work of established and emerging Arab writers to the attention of the wider world. It was the first prize in the world for published Arabic literary translation and was established by Banipal, the magazine of modern Arab literature in English translation, and the Banipal Trust for Arab Literature. The inaugural prize was awarded in 2006.

The Prize is wholly sponsored by Omar Saif Ghobash and his family in memory of his father, the late Saif Ghobash, a man passionate about Arabic literature and other literatures of the world.

The deadline for entries and publication of works each year is 31 March. For more information on how to apply, please click here.


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