Iraqi scholar, poet and translator, are just some of the many titles that Sinan Antoon is known for. He has now added winner of the 2014 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for the translation of his own novel 'The Corpse Washer' published by Yale University Press. Antoon is currently associate professor at Gallatin School of Individualized Study, New York.
'The Corpse Washer' is a novel about Iraq. Young Jawad, born to a traditional Shi'ite family of corpse washers and shrouders in Baghdad, decides to abandon the family tradition, choosing instead to become a sculptor, to celebrate life rather than tend to death. He enters Baghdad’s Academy of Fine Arts in the late 1980s, in defiance of his father’s wishes and determined to forge his own path. But the circumstances of history dictate otherwise. Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship and the economic sanctions of the 1990s destroy the socioeconomic fabric of society. The 2003 invasion and military occupation unleash sectarian violence. Corpses pile up, and Jawad returns to the inevitable washing and shrouding. Trained as an artist to shape materials to represent life aesthetically, he now must contemplate how death shapes daily life and the bodies of Baghdad’s inhabitants (amazon.co.uk).
The judging panel comprised literary translator and joint winner of the 2013 Prize Jonathan Wright, translator and writer Lulu Norman, broadcaster and writer Paul Blezard, and Banipal editor and trustee Samuel Shimon. They met in December 2014 to select the winning titles from 17 entries, under the chairmanship of Paula Johnson of the Society of Authors.
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