Taha Abdel Moneim, an author and translator has finally decided to translate the renowned children’s book series “The Wizard of Oz” in It’s Arabic Version for the first time. Since a century ago, this series has first emerged in the United States and witnessed a major success apart from the Arab community.
Now, things have completely changed and this amazing series became reachable and enjoyable by Arab kids. Here are the excerpts of the interview that (SEE) conducted with Abdel Moneim, who earned Sawiris Cultural Award for Story in 2016.
Q: First of all, why did you choose to translate this series specifically?
A. I was curious to read the original version of this popular series and I found out that it’s just a great literature work that had deeply affected the entire American culture. I wondered why it doesn’t have a complete Arabic version but summary and comics only, then I started directly to translate the first novel. After spending a lot of time searching for a cooperation with any publishing house, Al-Mahrousa Publishing house accepted to print the novel and it was presented at the book fair in its 50th round.
Q: How would you describe this old series?
A. It’s a group of separated imaginary novels with the same heroes but different plots. The first novel was written by an American author called Lyman Frank Baum and issued in 1900.
It was the best-selling book in the whole series and it was transformed to a musical and achieved a huge success. This first novel wasn’t planned to be a long series but kids are the ones who forced the writer to have new successive stories. After issuing the 13th novel, the writer died then his students and friends continued the series till it reached 40 novels.
Q: Is there a difference between the written novels and their films?
A. I’ve seen all the films excerpted from the series and I can say that films have a little bit different contexts; sometimes 2 novels are merged in one film and some written details are totally removed. For me, I find pleasure in reading the whole novel than watching the novel in form of a film. Also, the hard copies are still readable in a wide-scale. On the other hand, the “International Wizard of Oz” club is still witnessing many events till this moment.
Q: Why don’t we have this type of children’s literature in Egypt?
A. It exists but in form of comics and only Afaf Tabala is the distinct writer in this domain. Also, only three publishing houses in Egypt are concerned by this kind of novels unlike the Gulf States that launched specific awards for it. It’s logical that the more available kids’ novels, the more their willing to read.
Also an important tip is that, kids’ novels should be addressed to all age groups and most of Egyptian writers lack this writing skill.
Q: In Brief, what does the first novel revolve around?
A. Dorothy is the heroine of all novels and a massive tornado caused her to be moved to the magical land of “Oz”, then she resorted to the magician “Oz”; the ruler of Emerald city, in order to let her go back home. In her journey to Emerald city, she met some friends and after they managed to meet the ruler, he had some conditions to answer their requests.
Q: What about your future plans?
A. Regarding the second novel, it’s currently being printed and is going to be introduced soon. Also, I’ve already finished the translation of other 5 novels. The first 6 novels are going to be displayed in the book fair’s next edition and after translating the whole series, I’ll be focusing on writing and translating children’s literature including short stories and novels’ series.
Contributed by Salma Yassin