Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Announcing the inaugural Jawad Memorial Prize for Urdu-English Translation

Today (Dec 6) is my grandpa's death anniversary. This year also marks his birth centenary.

Ali Jawad Zaidi was born on March 10, 1916. He was many things, many good and wise things, but I see him as a thoroughly modern man. He was sensitive, erudite, hard-working and always trying to move the world in tiny degrees through his scholarship, his gentility, his innate goodness. He was a man open to change, not only in accepting and standing by the choices his children made, but also through examining his own cultural conditioning. He was broad-minded, simple in his habits and very open to joy.

As a writer, he was prolific. Those interested can read up more about him here (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ali_Jawad_Zaidi). He was a poet, a freedom fighter, a scholar. He could work in English, Urdu, Hindi and Farsi. His was a mind (and heart) not constrained by one tradition. He was steeped in the Urdu tradition, the north Indian Ganga-Jamuni culture and he believed it was important to hold on to your 'mitti', but he could also venture far from that mitti and keep returning. He could make up Phantom (comics) stories to tell to his grandchildren. It is his openness and his commitment to scholarship and multiculturalism that I want remembered most of all.

We (the Zaidi family joins me in this) want similar literary efforts to endure and be encouraged. As a very small step in this direction, we initiate the first Jawad Memorial Prize for Urdu-English Translation. I hope there are many fine entries. I wish my grandfather was alive to judge them himself. I wish he was alive just for my sake.


Translators are invited to submit translations into English of a single (published) Urdu short story to knownturf@gmail.com with 'Jawad Memorial Prize Submission' in the subject field.


The contest will open tonight, Dec 6, 2016 and close on Jan 30, 2017.

The winning translation will get INR 10,000 in prize money. The runner up gets INR 5,000.

The original story in Urdu must either be free of copyright claims (65 years after the death of the author) or the translator must obtain the Urdu author's permission before submitting the story.

There is no word limit but please understand that this is a short story prize. Anything over 10,000 words is considered a novella, so please avoid stories above a certain length.

The judges will not be announced beforehand. Submissions will be judged blind, so please do not write your name anywhere on the document submitted.

The document must be an attachment with either a .doc or .rtf file. The author's name must be mentioned in the document, but not the translator's name.

The translator's name should be mentioned in the body of the email.

The winner of the prize will be announced on March 10, 2017.

The decision of the judges is final.

Good luck and trust in the love of the word.

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