Booth graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University in 1978, and was the first female winner of the Wendell Scholarship. She obtained a D.Phil. in Arabic literature and Middle Eastern history from St Antony's College, Oxford in 1985. She received a Marshall Fellowship for her doctoral studies at Oxford. She has taught at Brown University, American University in Cairo, and University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She was director of the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at UIUC. She currently holds the Iraq Chair of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Edinburgh.
Booth has written two books (including one on the Egyptian nationalist poet Bayram al-Tunisi) as well as numerous scholarly papers and book chapters. She has also translated several works of Arabic literature into English. Her work has appeared in Banipal and Words Without Borders. She is a past winner of the Arkansas Arabic Translation Award and runner-up for the Banipal Prize. She also served as a judge for the Banipal Prize in 2008 and 2009.
Girls of Riyadh dispute
Booth was the original translator of Rajaa Alsanea's bestseller Girls of Riyadh. However, in a letter to the Times Literary Supplement in September 2007, she asserted that the author Alsanea and the publishers Penguin had interfered with her initial translation, resulting in a final version that was "inferior and infelicitous". Booth also wrote about this incident in a scholarly article titled "Translator v. author" published in a 2008 issue of Translation Studies.
- May Her Likes Be Multiplied: Biography and Gender Politics in Egypt. University of California Press, 2001.
- Bayram al-Tunisi's Egypt: Social Criticism and Narrative Strategies. Ithaca Press, 1990.
- The Penguin's Song by Hassan Daoud (in progress)
- As Though She Were Sleeping by Elias Khoury
- Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea
- Thieves in Retirement by Hamdi Abu Golayyel (runner-up, Banipal Prize, 2007)
- The Loved Ones by Alia Mamdouh
- Disciples of Passion by Hoda Barakat
- The Tiller of Waters by Hoda Barakat
- Children of the Waters by Ibtihal Salem
- Leaves of Narcissus by Somaya Ramadan
- The Open Door by Latifa al-Zayyat
- Points of the Compass by Sahar Tawfiq (winner, Arkansas Arabic Translation Award, 1994/5)
- My Grandmother’s Cactus: Stories by Egyptian Women
- Memoirs from the Women's Prison by Nawal El Saadawi
- The Circling Song by Nawal El Saadawi
- "Profile on Banipal website". Banipal.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-07-21.
- "Profile on Edinburgh University website". Imes.ed.ac.uk. 2010-05-20. Retrieved 2011-07-21.
- Booth, Marilyn. "Letters to the Editor, 'Girls of Riyadh'", The Times Literary Supplement, 2007-09-27.
- "Booth, Marilyn. "Translator v. author: Girls of Riyadh go to New York", Translation Studies, Vol. 1, Issue 2, July 2008". Tandfonline.com. 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2011-07-21.