This week, ArabLit is officially on #teamngugi. Yet it does seem strange that the betting agency Ladbrokes insists, year after year, that the two representatives of Arabic literature in the Nobel betting pool should be Adonis (6:1) and Nawal El Saadawi (50:1):
According to the memoir of pioneer translator Denys Johnson-Davies, Memories in Translation, the Syrian-French poet and critic Adonis was on the Nobel’s unofficial “Arabic” shortlist in 1988, along with Naguib Mahfouz (winner), Yusuf Idris (1927-1991), and Tayeb Salih (1929-2009).
Now, Johnson-Davies’ memories are unofficial: The only Arabophone author officially nominated for the Nobel — well, outside of Mahfouz — is Taha Hussein, first nominated in 1949.
There are others who could’ve been on the list: Pioneering playwright Saadallah Wannous (1941-1997); novelist and playwright Kateb Yacine (1929-1989), who wrote primarily in French, but also in Arabic and Tamazight; novelist Abdulrahman Munif (1933-2004).
In any case, Adonis was on the list in…
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