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The 2023 Jawad Memorial Prize for Urdu-English Translation
The jury was unanimous in its decision to award the first prize to ‘Palestinian,’ Poorna Swami’s translation of ‘Falasteeni’ by Fehmida Riaz, and the runner-up prize to ‘Prohibition,’ Mohd Aqib’s translation of ‘Pabandi’ by Ahmed Nadim Qasmi.
Jury comments:
The jury considered the following aspects: the merit of the poem in the source language, the quality of translation into the target language with respect to experiential richness, diction, tone, and overall impact, and its contemporary relevance. The poem ‘Palestinian’ translated its source material with fidelity, but without sacrificing a poetic sensibility of its own. Among the poems we examined, it presented a shining example of how good translation threads the needle between minimising the loss of original metaphor and maximising the lyrical quality of the output language. The quality of submitted translations was consistently good, making for a tough choice but, ultimately, this poem truly stood out. The runner-up, ‘Prohibition,’ is a short poem and the translator has effectively communicated its resistance against censorship and prohibition. The jury found the poem’s imagery of rolling pearls and drops falling on raging fires most evocative.

The Jury

Anisur Rahman is a literary critic, translator, and bilingual poet in English and Urdu. Formerly a Professor of English at Jamia Millia Islamia, a Central University in New Delhi, and a Senior Advisor at Rekhta Foundation (, he has worked and published in the areas of comparative, translation, postcolonial, and Urdu studies. His recent publications include Earthenware: Sixty Poems (Rubric Publishing, 2018), In Translation: Positions and Paradigms (Orient Blackswan, 2019), Socioliterary Cultures in South Asia (Niyogi Books, 2019), Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi: The Wonderful World of Urdu Ghazals (HarperCollins, 2019), and Hazaar Rang Shaairi: The Wonderful World of the Urdu Nazm (HarperCollins 2022). Rahman has been a Shastri Fellow at the University of Alberta, Canada (2001-2002) and a Visiting Scholar at Purdue University, USA (2007).

Raza Mir is a professor of management at William Paterson University in the USA. His latest books are Iqbal: Poet of the East (Penguin, 2022) and Murder at the Mushaira (Aleph 2021).

The Winner

Poorna Swami is a writer and choreographer from Bangalore, India. Her essays and reportage have appeared in The Caravan, Open, and London Review of Books (web), among others. Formerly the India editor-at-large for the international translation
quarterly Asymptote, she co-edited the journal’s first feature on Indian language poetry in English translation. Poorna is now a PhD student in the Department of South Asian Studies at Harvard University, where she studies 20th-century Urdu and Hindi literature, with an emphasis on feminist histories, transnational networks, and translation. A prize-winning poet, she has published poems in journals such as Indiana Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, and Indian Quarterly.
The Runner-up

Mohd Aqib is a UGC Junior Research Fellow and Ph.D. candidate at the Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. His Ph.D. title is ‘Aesthetics of Bilingualism in English Self-Translations of Three Post-Partition Urdu Novels.’ His publications include translations from Urdu to English, Urdu ghazals, and two co-written book chapters investigating the interventions of digital technology in Indian poetics.

The 2022 Jawad Memorial Prize for Urdu-English Translation
The jury was unanimous in its decision to award the prize to ‘My Dear Teacher’, Sana R. Chaudhry’s translation of ‘Pyaare Ustaad’ written by Julien Columeau.
The runner-up prize will be shared by Shama Askari for her translation of ‘Begum’ by Ibn e Sai’d; and Sabyn Javeri for ‘The Busy Woman,’ a translation of ‘Masroof Aurat’ by Khalida Hussain.
Jury comments:
While commending the high quality of translation for both runners-up, the jury notes that the prize- winning entry is outstanding. ‘My Dear Teacher’ is an absolutely seamless rendering of a poignant, unsettling story, ‘Pyaare Ustad!’ It retains the flavour and the spirit of Urdu but for readers who do not know the Urdu text, this translation would appear as a fresh literary undertaking, confident in its turn of phrase even as it enriches the cultural milieu of English.

The Jury

Fatima Rizvi is a Professor in the Department of English and Modern European languages, University of Lucknow. Her areas of academic interest include Colonial and Postcolonial studies, Translation studies, and Urdu studies. She translates Urdu and Hindi. Her research papers have been published in journals of national and international repute and anthologies of critical essays. She has published Beyond the stars and Other Stories (2021, Women Unlimited), a translation of Qurratulain Hyder’s Sitaron se Aage (1947). She is co-editing Understanding Disability: Interdisciplinary Critical Approaches for Springer, and translating stories and essays for Summer Medley: A Qurratulain Hyder Miscellany. She was awarded the Meenakshi Mukherjee Memorial Prize for excellence in academic research (2018), and the Jawad Memorial Prize (2019) for Urdu–English translation. 


Dr. Saif Mahmood is an Advocate of the Supreme Court of India and an International lawyer and strategy advisor with more than two decades of experience in Indian and international law. He is the founder of the full-service Indian law firm, Amicus Juris, and has been a Visiting Research Scholar at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, University of Oxford, where he worked at the intersection of law and literature. He is internationally renowned for his expertise in Urdu poetry, culture and literary heritage, and is the founder of the South Asian Alliance for Literature, Art & Culture. His columns have appeared in various publications and his English translations of Urdu poets have received critical acclaim. Apart from his bestselling Beloved Delhi: A Mughal City and Her Greatest Poets (Speaking Tiger, New Delhi, 2018), he is the co-author (with Tahir Mahmood) of Introduction to Muslim Law and Muslim Law in India and Abroad.

The Winner

Sana R. Chaudhry is a researcher, writer, and translator. Hailing from Pakistan and having completed her masters in Florida, USA and her PhD in York, UK, Sana is currently writing a book in collaboration with Clemson University Press, USA. Her bilingual and interdisciplinary work focuses on Urdu writers from South Asia and their representations of trauma and muteness in the wake of Partition violence. Her first translation of French Urdu author Julien Columeau’s novelette, Kamran Ali Khan Qawwal, chronicles the life of a musical legend and was published in The Aleph Review. Sana teaches popula fiction, postmodern literature, diasporic literature, and Muslim narratives at the National University of Modern Languages. She is also the founder of Adabistan|The Writing Studio, a virtual educational initiative that seeks to foster literary excellence and promote the humanities worldwide.
The Runner-ups

Shama Askari has been associated with the performing arts for the last twenty years. She started her acting career in theatre in 1999, with Tehrik-e-Niswan, and then moved on to television, film, and dramatized readings, performing all over Pakistan as well as India. In 2021, Shama was selected to be a part of the Transforming Narratives – Cultural Leadership Programme supported by the British Council, which provided a platform for collaboration between creatives from UK, Bangladesh and Pakistan. She is currently working with the Adab Festival, Pakistan, and recently completed a project ‘Producers of the Future: From Keighley to Karachi’, led by the Bradford Literature Festival. She is looking forward to exploring the realm of translations as a means of connecting and communicating with a wider audience.

Sabyn Javeri is the author of Hijabistan (Harper Collins: 2019) and the novel Nobody Killed Her (Harper Collins: 2017) and has edited two multilingual anthologies of student writing titled, The Arzu Anthology of Student Voices (Vol I & II. HUP: 2019, 2018) and the upcoming ‘Ways of Being’ an anthology of Pakistani Women’s Creative Non-fiction (Women Unlimited, Jan 2023). Her writing has been widely anthologized and published in London Magazine, Litro, Bookends Review, and Wasafiri amongst other publications. She writes a monthly column for 3Quarks Daily on gender and identity and her articles on decolonizing global education have been published in EdSurge. She has won the Oxonian Review short story prize and been shortlisted for the Tibor Jones prize. She is Senior Lecturer of Writing, Literature & Creative Writing at New York University, Abu Dhabi and her research interests include translations of Urdu women writers, transcultural feminism and inclusive pedagogy.

2022-23 JMP shortlisted entries.

The 2021 Jawad Memorial Prize for Urdu-English Translation
This year’s prize is being offered for translation of a single short story. The jury awards the prize jointly to Aalim Akhtar’s translation of ‘Hari Bol’ written by Zakia Mashhadi, and Bilal Tanweer’s translation of ‘Parasite’ (Keera) written by Bilal Hasan Minto.
There is no runner-up. However, there is a jury commendation for Nazia Akhtar’s translation of 'Chhottam Jaan' written by Zeenath Sajida, and Fathima M.’s translation of ‘Shadows’ (Saaye) by Khalid Jawed. 
We congratulate the winners as well as those who have received a commendation from the jury, and we wish them good luck in current and future literary ventures. 
Jury comments on ‘Hari Bol’: The story depicts life lived at a most basic level. It examines the complexity of human relationships with an unsentimental, even pitiless gaze. The language used is direct and the translation is very close to the original text, lucid and accessible.
Jury comments on ‘Parasite’: This is an unusual and enjoyable story, bordering on the surreal. It draws its strength from the portrayal of characters, which include a tapeworm. Both major characters, Mahmud and Maqbool, have been drawn by the author with great skill, panache, and a clinical eye for detail. The translation is free-flowing, an elegant rendering from the original.

The Jury

Author, critic, and translator in several languages, Mohd Asadudddin writes on literature, language politics and translation studies. He is currently Dean, Faculty of Humanities, Jamia Millia Islamia, and Advisor to the Vice Chancellor. He was Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence at Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA, during 2008-2009. In the same year he led a Presidential seminar, “Literature and Culture in Islam: Perspectives from South Asia”, at Raritan Valley Community College, New Jersey, USA.  He was a Charles Wallace Trust Fellow at the British Centre for Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK, in 2000. He was a visiting professor at several universities in India, Europe and the USA. His books include Complete Stories of Premchand (4 volumes; Penguin Random House), Premchand in World Languages (Routledge), Filming Fiction: Tagore, Premchand and Ray (OUP), A Life in Words (Penguin 2012), The Penguin Book of Classic Urdu Stories, Lifting the Veil: Selected Writings of Ismat Chughtai (Penguin 2001), For Freedom’s Sake: Manto (OUP), and (with Mushirul Hasan) Image and Representation: Stories of Muslim Lives in India (OUP). He is the Chair, Indian Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (IACLALS). He has a special passion for literature in translation and Translation Studies, and has received the following prizes for his translation: Katha Award, Dr A.K. Ramanujan Award, Sahitya Akademi (National Academy of Letters) Award and Crossword Book Award. 

Aakar Patel is a columnist and the Chair of Amnesty International India. He is the author of ‘Price of the Modi Years: A history of India after 2014’; ‘Our Hindu Rashtra: What it is and How We Got Here’; and the editor-translator of ‘Why I Write: Essays by Saadat Hasan Manto’. He has been Editor-in-Chief at Mid-day and Divya Bhaskar. 


The Winner



Aalim Akhtar is a PhD scholar at the Center for English Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. After pursuing a Bachelors’ degree at Delhi University's Kirorimal College and a Masters’ degree at JNU, Aalim has taught undergraduate students at JNU and at Zakir Hussain Delhi College, DU. As part of the translation studies course at his current centre, Aalim has translated over 25 micro-fictions by Manto, a play, ‘Anarkali’ by Imtiaz Ali Taj, and some nazms by Jaun Elia. He has also reviewed Srikant Verma's Relapse: A Novel, translated by Krishna Baldev Vaid, for The Book Review (Sept 2020). 

Bilal Tanweer's novel The Scatter Here Is Too Great won the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize and was shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, and the Chautauqua Prize (US). The novel was also translated into French (Editions Stock) and German (Carl Hanser Verlag). His translation of Muhammad Khalid Akhtar's novel and stories, Love in Chakiwara and Other Misadventures, received the PEN Translation Fund Grant. More recently, with Pauline Fan, he co-edited four issues of translated works from across South and Southeast Asia for the Commonwealth magazine, His other work includes translations of Saadat Hasan Manto and two novels of Ibn-e Safi. He teaches in the Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies program at LUMS, Lahore. 


Nazia Akhtar is an Assistant Professor (Human Sciences Research Group) at the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Hyderabad. In 2017, she was awarded a New India Foundation fellowship to write a book on Urdu prose by Hyderabadi women. The book is expected to be in print in 2022. Nazia is currently translating the Urdu writings of Hyderabadi women as well as conducting research on literary representations of the transfer of power as it affected Hyderabad.  

Fathima M is a doctoral candidate in English at JNU, New Delhi. She was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Texas at Austin in the year 2017-18.

The 2020 Jawad Memorial Prize for Urdu-English Translation

The unanimous choice for the 2020 winner of the Jawad Memorial Prize for Urdu-English Translation is 'The Sea' by Khalida Hussain, translated by Haider Shahbaz.

Haider Shahbaz’s translation of Khalida Hussain's ‘Samundar’ was chosen primarily for the quality of translation and secondarily on account of what the story has to offer in its English rendering. The selection of the Urdu text, the urgency of its translation, its flow – all were praiseworthy. ‘The Sea’ succeeds in capturing the poignancy of the original text, communicating it to the reader so that she can feel the wind in her face, smell the fresh sea breeze, touch the gritty sand beneath her feet, and share in the pain of displacement that underpins Hussain’s short story. This is a difficult task for any writer, and especially for one who works between languages as disparate as English and Urdu in their tonal register and literary sensibility.

Both judges have added a note encouraging the winner to work towards a collection of Khalida Hussain’s stories in English translation.

The jury has not picked a runner-up for the prize. However, there is a special mention and jury commendation for 'Tiffin Carrier' by Muneera Surati, translated by the author herself.

We congratulate the winner as well as those who have received a recommendation from the jury. We encourage them to publish their work and hope that they will continue to bring Urdu literature into the lives of millions of new readers.

The Jury

This year’s jury comprised of Mehr Afshan Farooqi and Rakhshanda Jalil. All submissions were read blind, that is, the judges did not know who the translators were.

Mehr Afshan Farooqi grew up in Allahabad, India. A multiple gold medalist from Allahabad University, Farooqi is currently Associate Professor of Urdu and South Asian Literature at the University of Virginia.  Her research publications address complex issues of Urdu literary culture particularly in the context of modernity.  She is interested in bilingualism and how it impacts creativity. Farooqi is also a well-known translator, anthologist and columnist. She is the editor of the pioneering two-volume work, The Oxford India Anthology of Modern Urdu Literature (2008).  More recently she has published the acclaimed monograph, The Postcolonial Mind, Urdu Culture, Islam and Modernity in Muhammad Hasan Askari (2013). Farooqi writes a featured column on Urdu literature past and present in the Dawn. She has recently finished a book on Ghalib titled: Ghalib: A Wilderness at my Doorstep. The book will be published by Allen Lane/Penguin Random House in 2020. 

Rakhshanda Jalil is an award-winning translator, writer, and literary historian. She has published over 25 books and written over 50 academic papers and essays. Her book on the lesser-known monuments of Delhi, Invisible City (2008), continues to be a bestseller. Her recent works include: Liking Progress, Loving Change: A Literary History of the Progressive Writers Movement in Urdu (OUP, 2014); a biography of Urdu feminist writer Dr Rashid Jahan A Rebel and her Cause (Women Unlimited, 2014); a translation of The Sea Lies Ahead, Intizar Husain's seminal novel on Karachi (Harper Collins, 2015) and Krishan Chandar's partition novel Ghaddar (Westland, 2017); an edited volume of critical writings on Ismat called An Uncivil Woman (Oxford University Press, 2017); and in the past year a literary biography of the Urdu poet Shahryar for Harper Collins; The Great War: Indian Writings on the First World War (Bloomsbury); Preeto & Other Stories: The Male Gaze in Urdu (Niyogi) and Kaifiyat, a translation of Kaifi Azmi’s poems for Penguin Random House and Jallianwala Bagh: Literary Responses in Prose & Poetry (Niyogi Books). Her latest book is But You Don’t Look Like a Muslim (Harper Collins), a collection of 40 essays on religion, culture, literature and identity. She runs an organization called Hindustani Awaaz, devoted to the popularization of Hindi-Urdu literature and culture, and writes regularly for major newspapers and magazines.



The Winner

Haider Shahbaz has a BA from Yale University and an MFA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is the translator of Mirza Athar Baig's Hassan's State of Affairs (HarperCollins India, 2019) and the guest editor of Words Without Border's March 2020 issue, Against the Canon: Urdu Feminist Writing. He was the 2016-17 Charles Pick Fellow at the University of East Anglia, and received an ALTA (American Literary Translators Association) Travel Fellowship in 2016. He lives in Lahore.


Muneera Surati has practiced as a clinical psychologist in government hospitals and private clinics, at de-addiction centers, and with various non-governmental organisations. She is also a relationship and marriage counsellor and therapist. She has written 22 research papers based on her research on drug abuse. She has written short stories, plays, street plays, essays, and Urdu scripts for television, and translated Yash Pal’s celebrated Hindi novel Jhoota Sach into Urdu. She is currently working on her first Urdu novel and another novel in English based on her experience as a psychologist.

Tiffin Carrier

The 2019 Jawad Memorial Prize for Urdu-English Translation

The second Jawad Memorial Prize goes to Fatima Rizvi for her translation of 'Hajiyani', a khaka originally written by Javed Siddiqui and published in his collection, Raushan Daan. 


This year's prize was limited to non-fiction texts, either a literary essay or a khaka (pen portrait) in Urdu. The khaka in particular has had a brisk tradition and several writers have written about their contemporaries in invigorating and memorable ways. The winning entry is a charming, moving portrait of a woman who works for a family of zamindars that has fallen upon hard times. The translator shows a strong grasp of both the Urdu and English idiom and she has done justice to the character and the memory of Hajiyani through her translation.


The submissions were judged blind.


The jury 


Snehal Shingavi is an associate professor of English at the University of Texas, Austin, where he teaches South Asian literature in English, Hindi, and Urdu, as well as the literature of the South Asian diaspora, including Asian American literature. He is the author of The Mahatma Misunderstood: the politics and forms of literary nationalism in India.  He has also translated Munshi Premchand’s Hindi novel, Sevasadan [The Orphanage], the Urdu short-story collection, Angaaray [Firebrands], and Bhisham Sahni’s autobiography, Today’s Pasts.  With Vasudha Dalmia, he has also published a translation of Agyeya’s Shekhar: A Life. He is currently working on two book-length manuscripts (The Country and the City, the Jungle and the Slum: the neoliberal landscapes of South Asian literature and A Critical History of Hindi Literature) and several translation projects (Joginder Paul’s Urdu novel A Single Drop of Blood, Yashpal’s Hindi novella Geeta: Party Comrade, and Mannu Bhandari and Rajendra Yadav’s joint Hindi novel The Barest of Smiles). 


Daisy Rockwell paints under the takhallus, or alias, Lapata (pronounced ‘laapataa’), which is Urdu for “missing,” or “absconded,” as in “my luggage is missing,” or “the bandits have absconded.” She has shown her work widely. Apart from her essays on literature and art, she has written Upendranath Ashk: A Critical Biography, The Little Book of Terror, and the novel, Taste. Her highly acclaimed translations include Upendranath Ashk's Falling Walls, and In the City, a Mirror Wandering, Bhisham Sahni's Tamas, Krishna Sobti's A Gujarat Here, A Gujarat There, and Khadija Mastur’s The Women’s Courtyard.


Fatima Rizvi teaches literature at the University of Lucknow. Her areas of interest include literature in translation and postcolonial literature. Her research papers have been published in journals of national and international repute and in anthologies of criticism. She translates Urdu and Hindi.

The 2017 Jawad Memorial Prize for Urdu-English Translation

The winner of the inaugural Jawad Memorial Prize for Urdu-English Translation, 2017, is Rakshanda Jalil for her translation, ‘Smoke’, a short story written by Gulzar. 


The runner-up prize is shared by Fatima Rizvi for her translation of ‘The Outlaw’, a short story written by Premchand, and Raza Naeem for his translation of ‘Spring’, a short story written by Abdullah Hussain.

Congratulations to all three winners and we hope that they keep up their excellent work in translation and the creation of a richer, more diverse world culture.


The judges for this year’s award were Musharraf Ali Farooqi and Tabish Khair.


They were unanimous in awarding the prize to ‘Smoke’, a highly competent translation of ‘Dhuaan’, a simple but powerful story by Gulzar. Both the topicality and economy of the story, which talks about the violence and tragic absurdity of religious prejudice, and it's careful, even translation convinced both the judges that this entry deserves to be the winner. 


The judges decided that the runner up prize should be split between two shortlisted entries. Premchand’s ‘Qazzaqi’ is an outstanding attempt at tackling a nuanced story about power, caste and affection from a child’s perspective, while ‘Spring’, a translation of ‘Bahaar’ by Abdullah Hussain, is an understated story about hope, disappointment and deception. In both cases, the original texts were longer, perhaps more uneven in their tone, and hence presented the translators with greater difficulties as well as greater opportunities. The judges felt that these translations were outstanding attempts.

The Jury

Tabish Khair is the author of the novels Jihadi Jane; How to Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position; The Bus Stopped; Filming; and The Thing About Thugs. He is also the author of several books of poetry and non-fiction studies, including Where Parallel Lines Meet; Man of Glass; The New Xenophobia; Transnational and Post Colonial Vampires; Babu Fictions: Alienation in Indian English Novels; and The Gothic, Postcolonialism and Otherness.


He is the recipient of the All India Poetry Prize (awarded by the Poetry Society and the British Council) and an honorary fellowship (for creative writing) of the Baptist University of Hong Kong. His novels have been shortlisted for several prestigious prizes including the Man Asian Literary Prize, the Kirkus Prize, the Encore Award, the Prix de l'Inapercu, and the Tata Book of the Year Award, and his work has been translated into several languages.

Musharraf Ali Farooqi is an author, translator, storyteller, and folklorist, and the founder-editor of the Urdu Thesaurus. His novels include the critically acclaimed Between Clay and Dust, shortlisted for the Man Asia Literary Prize 2012, and The Story of a Widow, shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, 2008. Rabbit Rap is a modernist fable for young adults. His children's books include the collection, The Amazing Moustaches of Moochhander the Iron Man and Other Stories, illustrated by Michelle Farooqi, shortlisted for the India ComicCon Award in the Best Publication for Children category, and the picture book The Cobbler's Holiday: or Why Ants Don't Wear Shoes.


He is the translator, among other works, of the internationally acclaimed epic, The Adventures of Amir Hamza; Rococo and Other Worlds – Selected Poetry of Afzal Ahmed Syed; The Beast, a translation of Syed Muhammad Ashraf's Urdu novella Numberdar ka Neela.

The Winners

Dr. Rakhshanda Jalil is a writer, critic and literary historian. She has published several books and academic papers and essays. Her books include Invisible City; Release & Other Stories; Liking Progress, Loving Change: A Literary History of the Progressive Writers Movement in Urdu; and a biography of Urdu feminist writer Dr. Rashid Jahan, A Rebel and her Cause.  She has translated short stories by Intizar Husain as The Death of Sheherzad, and a novel by Intizar Husain, The Sea Lies Ahead, which was awarded the KLF Peace Prize by the Karachi Litfest and the German Embassy. She also runs an organization called Hindustani Awaaz, devoted to the popularization of Hindi-Urdu literature and culture, and she has been awarded the Kaifi Azmi Award for her contribution to Urdu.


Fatima Rizvi teaches literature at the University of Lucknow. Her areas of interest include literature in translation and postcolonial literature. Her research papers have been published in journals of national and international repute and in anthologies of criticism. She translates Urdu and Hindi.


Raza Naeem is a Pakistani social scientist, book critic, and an award-winning translator and dramatic reader currently engaged as an Instructor in History at the Senior School in the Beaconhouse School Systems in Lahore. He is the recipient of a prestigious 2013-2014 Charles Wallace Trust Fellowship in the UK for his translation and interpretive work on Saadat Hasan Manto's essays. He is currently the President of the Progressive Writers Association in Lahore and is working on translations of the selected work of Sibte Hasan, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi and Abdullah Hussein.

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