Celebrated Translator Denys Johnson-Davies passes away

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Master translator Denys Johnson-Davies has died at the age of 94.

Johnson-Davies was one of the world’s most prolific Arabic translators, having produced over 30 volumes of modern Arabic literature, much of it fiction. He was the first to translate Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz’s work to English and also translated a number of other renowned authors including Yusuf Idris, Mahmoud Darwish, Salwa Bakr, Tayeb Saleh, Zakaria Tamer, among others. The late Edward Said described him as ‘the leading Arabic-English translator of our time’.

In 2006, Johnson-Davies published his memoir, Memories in Translation: A Life Between the Lines of Arabic Literature, where he charted his life in translation. He also wrote children’s books, where the stories were generally adapted from popular Arabic sources.

Johnson-Davies attended the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in its inaugural year, 2009, and in 2010, discussing Arabic in translation.

The Festival team share their deepest condolences with Johnson-Davies’ family during this difficult time.