Retranslating the Qur’an into Dutch. A conversation between the Iranian-Dutch writer Kader Abdolah and Helge Daniëls (KU Leuven)

Kader Abdollah’s translation of the Qu’ran is not a translation in the traditional sense of the word. Abdollah not only abbreviated some of the sura’s, he also arranged the verses chronologically rather than adhere to the arrangement of the verses in the official compilation of the Qu’ran. Moreover, he added contextualizing introductory remarks to the verses, as well as small visual tokens, which most would recognize as ‘cultural icons of the Netherlands’ (the cow, the tulip, the windmill, the rain and the wooden clog). By means of these distinctive interventions Abdollah establishes in his translation a dynamic relation between the original Arabic text, the Persian literary tradition and the Dutch reader. These and other creative and poetic translation choices will be among the central topics of the interview.

About the interviewer

Helge Daniëls (University of Leuven) studied Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Ghent and further specialized at the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo and Yarmouk University in Irbid, Jordan. Her research focuses mainly on language variability and language ideology, as well as modern Arabic literature. Her publications on literature deal in particular with Arab avant-garde writers. She teaches, among other courses, Arabic literature and the translation of Arabic literary and media texts. She is also active as a literary translator and recently translated eight short stories for a special issue of the literary journal DW B on female Arab authors.