I was browsing the Raya Agency website (for news about grown-up author Jabbour Douaihy’s June Rain) when I noticed that the agency also represents children’s literature.
I have seen a few Arabic children’s books recently translated into other languages—Abir Ballan’s Al Dagaga Bak Beek will be published in Turkish, and Walid Taher’s Sahbi el Gedeed has been translated into German. But I didn’t know Raya was representing world rights of Arabic kids’ titles. And surely: Good for them!
But the unhappy side is that I haven’t seen Fatima Charafedine’s ديك الجبل nor Rania Zbib Daher’s سيسي ملاقط nor Abdalah Raouf’s أنا و ذيلي in Cairo bookstores, and they all look quite charming.
Yes, it will be excellent for these books to receive another life in English or Turkish or Italian or Japanese. But even better (I think!) if they were to receive more life across the Arabic-speaking world and the Arab diaspora.
Yes, there are upsides to having separate book pools in Cairo, Amman, Abu Dhabi, Casablanca, Beirut. The localized children’s books can be tailored to specific cultures and 3ameyas, just as American and U.K., Indian and South African children’s books are tailored to local children’s needs and expectations.
However, the best of the lot (should) also be making their way across oceans, up rivers, and into as many hands as possible.