Wiam El-Tamami is an Egyptian writer, translator, editor, and wanderer. She has spent many years moving between different cultures and communities across the Middle East, Europe, Southeast Asia, and North America. She writes nonfiction, fiction, and microstories that blur the boundaries of both. Her writing and translation work has been published in Granta, Freeman’s, Social Movement Studies, Jadaliyya, Alif, Banipal, Craft and Ploughshares Solos (forthcoming), as well as several anthologies, including Translating Dissent, The Uncanny Reader, and Road Stories.
She has received fellowships, grants, and residencies from Art Omi, the Banff Center for the Arts, Akademie Schloss Solitude, the Mophradat Foundation, and the Berlin Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa. She won the 2011 Harvill Secker Translation Prize, was shortlisted for the 2023 Craft Nonfiction Prize, and was a finalist for the 2023 Disquiet Prize.
As an Arabic-English translator, she has translated poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by writers from around the Arab World, including Adania Shibli, Hanan al-Shaykh, Mansoura Ez Eldin, Mahmoud Abu Hashhash, Nael El-Toukhy, and Ahmed Naji. She has also translated articles and essays for Mada Masr and Jeem.
She has been working for many years as a copyeditor and proofreader with the New York University Press (the Library of Arabic Literature series) and the American University in Cairo Press, along with other organizations and private individuals. She specializes in editing works of Arabic literature in English translation, as well as English-language books about the Middle East. She also works as a literary reader, reviewing manuscripts for potential publication.
Then there are all her other lives: as a chef, long-term nomad (nineteen years and counting), yoga teacher, and bodyworker. Intuitive movement, meditation, somatics, contact improvisation, yoga, and qi gong have been part of her practice for many years. After living in several megacities, she has shifted her attention to rural life over the past years: living in the Peloponnese mountains in Greece, in the Swiss Alps, on the Princes’ Islands in Turkey, on a farm in Wisconsin, in the German countryside. She is currently based in Berlin and exploring alternative rural communities around Europe, learning more about collective living, gardening, and life on the land.
On ‘revolution and aftermath, disaster as a catalyst, ways of living, mediated truth and literary truth, and lying down’: with Kata Kovács and Tom O’Doherty on Repatterning (2022)
On translation, writing, and revolution: with Ted Hodgkinson in Granta (2011)
Awards, Grants, and Residencies
(2023) – Finalist for the Disquiet International Prize.
(2023) – Shortlisted for the CRAFT Nonfiction Award.
(2023) – Grant for non-German literature from the Berlin Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa.
(2021) – Research grant from the Berlin Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa.
(2019) – 8-month writing fellowship at the Akademie Schloss Solitude (Stuttgart, Germany).
(2016) – Artist’s grant from Mophradat association (Brussels, Belgium) to support the writing of her first book.
(2015) – Memoir Writing residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts (Alberta, Canada).
(2014) – Advanced Nonfiction Seminar at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program (IWP).
(2013) – Creative collaboration (writing and visual arts) with the winners of The Abraaj Group Art Prize. The resulting digital publication, Garden and Spring, was on display online and at Art Dubai 2014.
(2012) – Residency at Art OMI (upstate New York).
(2012) – Artist’s grant from the British Council in Cairo (Egypt).
(2011) – Won the Harvill Secker Young Translator’s Prize (Vintage Books, London).
(2011) – Crossing Border festival of literature and music in Holland and Belgium.
(2009-2010) – Finalist for the Sea of Words Euro-Mediterranean Award.