The graphic novel Your Wish Is My Command – written, illustrated and translated by Deena Mohamed and published by Granta – has been announced as the winner of the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation in 2023.
Your Wish Is My Command was first published in Arabic in three volumes in 2017, 2019 and 2021. This is the story of three people who are navigating a world where wishes are literally for sale. But bureaucracy, inequality and prejudice rule in this magical economy, like everywhere else, and expensive wishes are more likely to succeed.
The judges said of Your Wish Is My Command:
“This year's winner breaks exciting new ground for this unique prize. A graphic novel self-translated from the Arabic by its author, Your Wish is My Command succeeds triumphantly as a spellbinding narrative, a visual tour de force and as a unified work of art.
Deena Mohamed’s wittily inventive texts and dialogues complement her virtuoso drawings in an exuberant satirical fantasia. She channels the dreams, fears and struggles of an alternative Cairo – a city of the imagination whose people share the everyday aspirations, and frustrations, of all who wish and hope around the world.”
Deena Mohamed is an Egyptian comic artist, writer and designer. Mohamed started making comics at 18 when her webcomic Qahera starring a hijab-clad superhero went viral. From there, Mohamed started working on the graphic novel trilogy Shubeik Lubeik – a fairytale rhyme meaning ‘your wish is my command’ in Arabic – with the aim of writing a literary, feminist, Arab-centric graphic novel, with international and universal resonance.
The judges have also awarded a special commendation in 2023 to A Line in the World, written by Dorthe Nors, translated from Danish by Caroline Waight and published by Pushkin Press. The judges commented:
“Our specially commended title weaves wind and tide, experience and history, into a magical memoir of a place, a life and a culture. Dorthe Nors’s A Line in the World transforms the North Sea coast of Denmark into an enchanted shoreline. Here past and present, nature and humanity, meet, in superbly evocative prose carried flawlessly into English by Caroline Waight.”
The winner and the specially commended title were chosen from an eclectic shortlist spanning cultures, languages, genres and forms. The shortlist of eight titles, all of which were from independent publishers, included translations from Arabic (Egypt and Yemen), Chinese (China), Danish (Denmark), Hungarian (Hungary), Italian (Italy), Spanish (Mexico), and Swedish (Sweden).
The prize is judged by Amanda Hopkinson, Boyd Tonkin and Susan Bassnett. The competition received 153 eligible entries from 32 languages in 2023.
The prize is generously supported in 2023 by the School of Creative Arts, Performance and Visual Cultures at the University of Warwick, the Warwick Institute of Engagement, the British Comparative Literature Association, and the British Centre for Literary Translation.