Two Brazilian authors of Arab origin were contemplated in this year’s edition of the Jabuti Award, the most traditional Brazilian literature award, equivalent to the Pulitzer Prize.
Milton Hatoum, from the northern Brazilian state of Amazonas received the award in the romance category for book "Cinzas do Norte" (Ashes of the North), and Mamede Mustafa Jarouche, from the southeastern Brazilian state of São Paulo received the award in the Translation category for his version of "Thousand and One Nights". The winners were announced on Tuesday. August 8, by the Brazilian Book Chamber.
"Cinzas do Norte" is the third book written by Hatoum, and it is situated in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state, in the 1950s and 1960s. The book tells the story of two friends, Olavo and Raimundo, the first an orphan brought up by impoverished uncles and the other a son or rich parents.
Both of the author’s prior books, "Relato de um Certo Oriente" (Tale of a Certain Orient – 1989) and "Dois Irmãos" (Two Brothers -2000), also won the Jabuti Award. Both books tell the story of Lebanese immigration.
Born in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state, in 1952, Hatoum is the son of a Lebanese father and a Brazilian mother. His works have already been translated into many languages. In 2003, for example, the Arabic translation of "Two Brothers" was released by Lebanese publishing house Dar Alfarabi.
The book tells the story of the conflict between bothers Omar and Yaqub, sons of Lebanese immigrants living in Amazonas. The translation was by Safa Jubran, the Arabic language and literature professor at University of São Paulo (USP).
The work by Jarouche, in turn, is the first direct translation into Portuguese of the Arabic originals of "Thousand And One Nights". The first volume was released in April last year, and the second in December. He is currently working on the third volume that, he hopes, should be released in 2007.
To execute the translation, Jarouche, who is also Arabic language and literature professor at USP, researched manuscripts for five years in Europe and the Middle East.
"This award is for Arabic culture, which produced wonderful works," said the translator to ANBA yesterday (09). He added that the Jabuti is a stimulus to the whole of the Arabic team at USP, which has many professors involved in translations.
Last year the translation received the Paulo Rónai Award for best translation, given by the National Library Foundation, and was also considered the best translation by the São Paulo State Association of Art Critics (APCA). Jarouche, aged 43, is a son of Lebanese immigrants who came to Brazil in the 1950s.
The Jabuti awarding ceremony will take place on September 13 at Sala São Paulo, a theatre hall in the central region of the city of São Paulo. At the occasion the winners of the two main categories, "Fiction Book of the Year" and "Non-Fiction Book of the Year", will be announced.
The Jabuti Award also contemplates various other categories like kid’s books, schoolbooks, poetry and biographies. The award, created in 1959, is currently at its 48th edition. The first winner in the romance category was famous Brazilian author Jorge Amado for "Gabriela Cravo e Canela" (Gabriela Clove and Cinnamon).