Jonathan Wright (translator)

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Jonathan Wright is a British journalist and literary translator.


Wright was born in Andover, Hampshire, and spent his childhood in Canada, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Germany. He attended Packwood Haugh School from 1966 to 1967 and Shrewsbury School from 1967 to 1971. He studied Arabic, Turkish and Islamic civilization at St John's College, Oxford. He joined Reuters news agency in 1980 as a correspondent, and has been based in the Middle East for most of the last three decades. He has served as Reuters' Cairo bureau chief, and he has lived and worked throughout the region, including in Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon, Tunisia and the Gulf. From 1998 to 2003, he was based in Washington, DC, covering U.S. foreign policy for Reuters. For two years until the fall of 2011 Wright was editor of the Arab Media & Society Journal, published by the Kamal Adham Center for Journalism Training and Research at the American University in Cairo.[1]


Year Title Author Original Title Notes
2008 Taxi Khaled al-Khamissi تاكسى حواديت المشاوير
taksi ḥawadīt ʾil-mašawīr
His first major work, published by Aflame Books in 2008
republished by Bloomsbury Qatar in 2012
2009 The Madman of Freedom Square Hassan Blasim مجنون ساحة الحرية
majnūn sāḥat ʾal-ḥurriyya
A collection of short stories
longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2010
2011 On the State of Egypt: What Caused the Revolution Alaa Al-Aswany A collection of political essays
2012 Judgment Day Rasha al Ameer يوم الدين
yawm ʾad-dīn
2012 Life on Hold Fahd al-Ateeq كائن مؤجل
kāʾin muʾajjal
2012 Azazeel Youssef Ziedan عزازيل
Won the Arabic Booker prize in 2009
Won the 2013 Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation[2]
2013 The Iraqi Christ Hassan Blasim المسيح العراقي
ʾal-masīḥ ʾal-ʿirāqī
Won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2014
2013 Whatever Happened to the Egyptian Revolution? Galal Amin ماذا حدث للثورة المصرية؟
māḏā ḥadaṯa laṯ-ṯawra ʾal-miṣriyya?
2014 Land of No Rain Amjad Nasser حيث لا تسقط الأمطار
ḥaiṯu lā tasquṭ ʾal-ʾamṭār
Commended (runner-up) by the judges of the 2015 Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation
2014 Temple Bar Bahaa Abdelmegid خمارة المعبد
khammārat al-maʿbad
2015 The Bamboo Stalk Saud Alsanousi ساق البامبو
sāq al-bāmbū
Won the Arabic Booker prize in 2013

Won the 2016 Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation

2015 Sleepwalkers Sa'ad Makkawi السائرون نياما
ʾas-sāʾirūn niyāman
Awaiting publication
2016 The Televangelist Ibrahim Eissa مولانا
2016 The Longing of the Dervish Hammour Ziada شوق الدرويش
shawq al-darwīsh
Winner of the Naguib Mahfouz Prize

Kidnapping and Escape[edit]

On August 29, 1984, while on a reporting assignment for Reuters in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Wright was detained and held hostage by the Palestinian splinter group led by Abu Nidal in a part of the Lebanon hostage crisis.[3][4] The group wanted to exchange him for members imprisoned in Britain for shooting the Israeli ambassador, Shlomo Argov, in London in June 1982. Wright spent about one week in a small room in a country house near the town of Barr Elias and was then moved to a large villa near the Chouf mountain town of Bhamdoun, above Beirut. In the early hours of September 16, 1984, Wright escaped from captivity[5] by removing the plank of wood covering a ventilation hole and crawling through the hole, which was about 10 feet above floor level. He reached the hole by dismantling his metal bedstead and using the frame as a ladder. Once outside he walked along the Beirut-Damascus highway until he reached a checkpoint manned by the mainly Druze Muslim Progressive Socialist Party. The party militia held him incommunicado at Aley police station until September 19, when party leader Walid Jumblatt told his aides to drive him to the Reuters office in Beirut.[6]

Awards and honours[edit]


  1. ^ AUC newsletter on Wright's appointment
  2. ^ "The 2013 Prize Announcing joint winners Jonathan Wright and William M Hutchins". Retrieved 16 January 2014. 
  3. ^ "Britain Asks Lebanon To Look for Journalist". The New York Times. September 4, 1984. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  4. ^ "Moslem Group Holding Journalist". The Calgary Herald. September 5, 1984. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  5. ^ Salameh, Rima (September 26, 1986). "British reporter evades kidnapping in Moslem Beirut". Gainesville Sun. Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  6. ^ "British Journalist Freed". The Deseret News. September 22, 1984. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  7. ^ "The 2013 Prize". Banipal Trust. January 19, 2014. Retrieved January 19, 2014.