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“showcases contemporary Arab authors in English translation, from wherever they are writing and publishing. An independent magazine, founded 15 years ago, in 1998, by Margaret Obank and Iraqi author Samuel Shimon, Banipal‘s three issues a year present both established and emerging Arab writers through poems, short stories or excerpts of novels, plus the occasional features of LITERARY INFLUENCES, TRAVELLING TALE. The magazine features interviews with authors, publishers and translators, book reviews and photo-reports of literary events. From Banipal 41 – Celebrating Adonis each issue includes a Guest Literature or Guest Writer feature on non-Arab, non-Arabic literature as part of Banipal’s mission to promote intercultural dialogue. Each issue has a main theme, as well as being illustrated throughout with author photographs
From the first issue, the three cornerstones of Banipal were that Arab literature is an essential part of world culture and human civilisation; that dialogue between different cultures needs to be continually deepened; and that the joy and enlightenment to be gained from reading beautiful poetry and imaginative writing is an integral part of human existence. These three points have guided Banipal’s translation and promotion of contemporary Arab literature. Literary translation has such an inspirational power to develop dialogue and interaction between cultures; the moment a reader starts to read a translation dialogue begins. Banipal sees itself as a vehicle for intercultural dialogue and exchange that opens a window for UK and other Western audiences on the realities of Arab culture in all its diversity and vibrancy, enabling fruitful discourse to develop, that will lead to further exchange, mutual respect, new writings, deeper understanding, and Arab literature taking its rightful place in the canon of world literature.
Banipal is a magazine for lovers of literature, of world literature, to encourage a wider readership of Arab writers and poets for their own sake, and for both the particularity and the universality of their voices. Banipal publishes Arab writers and poets who write in French, English or German as well as the main Arabic language, presenting the reality of literature from the Arab world and naming it ‘Arab’ rather than ‘Arabic’ literature (which excludes literature by Arab authors not written in Arabic – and consequently many great Arab writers).
Banipal is distributed in the UK and the rest of Europe by Central Books (www.centralbooks.com). Copies of the magazine can be bought direct from Banipal or can be ordered from bookshops in the UK and the rest of Europe.
Banipal takes its name from Ashurbanipal, last great king of Assyria and patron of the arts, whose outstanding achievement was to assemble in Nineveh, from all over his empire, the first systematically organised library in the ancient Middle East. The thousands of clay tablets of Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian writings included the famous Mesopotamian epics of the Creation, the Flood, and Gilgamesh, many folk tales, fables, proverbs, prayers and omen texts.