Comma wins PEN Translates award for Palestinian author's debut collection

English PEN today announced its latest list of PEN Translates award winners. The list includes books translated from 14 languages and 16 countries, including The Sea Cloak, written by female Palestinian author Nayrouz Qarmout and translated by Perween Richards, which will be published by Comma in early 2018. 

The Sea Cloak is a debut collection from an exciting, young Palestinian author, translated from Arabic into English for the first time. Nayrouz is a journalist, and women’s rights campaigner, and the stories in the collection are drawing from her own experiences growing up in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, as well as her current life in Gaza; stitched together they create a patchwork of different perspectives into what it means to be a woman in Palestine today. Whether following the daily struggles of orphaned children fighting to survive in the rubble of recent bombardments, or mapping the complex, cultural tensions between different generations of refugees in wider Gazan society, these stories offer rare insights into one of the most talked about, but least understood cities in the Middle East.

It is encouraging to note that in this round of grants, women authors and translators make up more than half of the award winners. Books are selected for PEN Translates awards on the basis of outstanding literary quality, strength and innovation of the publishing project, and contribution to literary diversity in the UK. Awards are made to publishers to cover the English language translation costs.  Every book receiving an English PEN award is featured on the English PEN World Bookshelf website, in partnership with Foyles bookshop.

Lulu Norman, a trustee of English PEN and Chair of the Writers in Translation Committee, said:

We are proud and delighted to support these 18 titles, selected from a record-breaking number of submissions. The books range from classic to groundbreaking and often promise to be both. Entirely new and distinct voices – from Somalia, Syria, Mexico and Korea – can also be heard. It was clear from the many variations on essay, memoir, report or chronicle that the borderlands between fiction and non-fiction have never been so well-explored, genres never so porous. For once the number of original women writers drew level with the number of men. It is wonderful to witness this level of creativity and diversity in today’s translated literature.  

To find out more and read the full list, click here.