Late last month, the Global Humanities Initiative announced winners of its first Global Humanities Translation Prize:
The $5,000 prize — reported this week in Publishing Perspectives — was awarded for “a translation-in-progress of a non-Western literary or scholarly text[.]” Among the prize’s goals is to “draw attention to the importance of translating non-Western language texts.”
The prize’s two inaugural winners were Jason Grunebaum and Ulrike Stark, who will translate Manzoor Ahtesham’s The Tale of the Missing Man from modern Hindi, and Carl Ernst, who will “translate and annotate the classical Arabic poems of Persian mystic Mansur al-Hallaj.”
Northwestern University Press, a partner in the prize, will publish both titles in Spring 2018. In the release, Ernst emphasized that the poems are still performed today. The prize also noted, for honorable mention, Allen Hibbard’s ongoing project to translate Haider Haider’s A Banquet for Seaweed, along with poet Osama Esber, as well as “Mui Poopoksakul’s Sunny Boy, a translation of Duanwad Pimwana’s Thai novel Changsamran; Arun Nedra Rodrigo’s The Forest That Took Poison, a translation of Kuna Kaviyazhakan’s Tamil novel Nanjunda Kaadu.”
The judges weren’t named, although, “Decisions regarding the prize are made in consultation with an international advisory board as well as an internal advisory board comprised of Northwestern faculty in the arts and humanities.”
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Al-Hallaj, executed for heresy in 922 CE, is a pivotal figure in the literary and mystical cultures of the Islamic world, and yet this will be the first comprehensive English edition of the poems attributed to Hallaj. Of the 118 poems translated by Ernst, half have never appeared in English before.