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Remembering Humphrey Davies

We are very sad to share the news that Humphrey Davies has passed away. Renowned for his translations from Arabic by writers including Naguib Mahfouz, Alaa al-Aswany, and Mohamed Mustagab, and for his inspired translation of Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq’s Leg Over Leg, Davies was a spirited advocate for the work of his writers, and an intelligent, playful, and judicious translator. His translations of Elias Khoury’s books, including Gate of the Sun, Yalo, Broken Mirrors, and Children of the Ghetto, introduced English speakers to one of the great literary minds of the last several decades. Davies was also a source of encouragement and solidarity for fellow translators, especially those who were learning the ropes.

As Marcia Lynx Qualey writes in Arab Lit Daily, “In tributes that have begun to appear from grieving friends and colleagues online, there are some who mention his important role in experimental translation, in bringing fun and excitement to Arabic literature — whether classical or contemporary — but also many who remember he was a warm person, a loving friend, companionable, unassuming, welcoming, kind.”

In a New York Times tribute, Nana Asfour writes, “Davies was a key figure in introducing contemporary Middle Eastern writers to an English language audience, rendering their prose into English with crisp and precise translations rich in nuance and sensitivity to the original.” You can access the article through Dropbox here.

We have tremendous gratitude for the work Humphrey Davies contributed to Archipelago Books in recent years. His love of literature and his dedication to translation will continue to shine through his books.

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