BOONE, N.C. — Dr. William “Bill” Hutchins, professor of religious studies in Appalachian State University’s Department of Philosophy and Religion, has completed an English translation of the novel “The Fetishists: The Tuareg Epic” by award-winning author Ibrahim al-Koni. The translation is Hutchins’ fourth for the Libyan author’s work.
al-Koni has published more than 80 books, which have been translated into 35 languages.
Hutchins’ translation is part of the Modern Middle East Literatures in Translation series, which is distributed for the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. The series, which publishes English translations of literary works by established Middle Eastern writers, includes nearly 50 translations from the Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Turkish languages.
On its website, the publisher states, “‘The Fetishists,’ originally published in Arabic as ‘Al Majus,’ is considered the masterpiece of Ibrahim al-Koni, one of the most prolific and important writers in Arabic today.
“In this epic novel, al-Koni blends Tuareg folklore and history with intense, fond descriptions of daily life in the desert, creating a mirror for life anywhere. Through its tragic rendering of a clash between the Tuareg and traditional African civilizations, the novel profoundly probes the contradictions of the human soul as it takes the reader on a unique spiritual adventure inside the Tuareg world.”
Before translating “The Fetishists,” Hutchins completed English translations of three other al-Koni novels: “Anubis,” (American University in Cairo Press, 2005), “The Seven Veils of Seth” (Garnet Publishing, 2008) and “New Waw: Saharan Oasis” (University of Texas Press, 2014).
In 2015, he won the American Literary Translators Association National Prose Translation Award for his translation of “New Waw.”
Hutchins’ translation of “The Fetishists” was published by University of Texas Press in November 2018.
The translation is available for purchase in paperback format from the publisher, Appalachian’s University Bookstore and Barnes & Noble. Amazon offers the translation in both e-book and paperback formats.
About Dr. Williams “Bill” Hutchins
In 1964, Hutchins graduated from Yale University, where he majored in art history. Subsequently, he attended the University of Chicago, where he obtained a Master of Arts in philosophy (1967) and a Ph.D. in Near Eastern languages (1971). His doctoral thesis, on the Persian philosopher Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, is titled “Fakhr al-Din al-Razi on Knowledge.”
After stints at Encyclopædia Britannica, Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois, the University of Ghana and Harvard University, Hutchins joined the faculty in Appalachian’s Department of Philosophy and Religion, housed in the College of Arts and Sciences, in 1978. He was promoted to full professor in 1986.
As a translator, Hutchins’ best-known work is his translation of the “Cairo Trilogy” by Egyptian Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz. Hutchins’ translation, published by Everyman’s Library, among others, is the principal version available in English.
In addition, he has translated a variety of Arabic authors: Tawfiq al-Hakim, Ibrahim Abd al-Qadir al-Mazini, Muhammad Salmawy, al-Jahiz, Nawal el-Saadawi, Muhammad Khudayyir, Ibrahim al-Koni, Fadhil al-Azzawi, Hassan Nasr and others.
In 2005–06, Hutchins received a U.S. National Endowment for the Arts grant in literary translation. His translations have appeared in several issues of Banipal magazine, and a number of his original short stories have appeared in the journals Cold Mountain Review and Crucible.
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About the Department of Philosophy and Religion
The Department of Philosophy and Religion invites students to explore the world, examine beliefs, understand a diversity of worldviews, and challenge the ideas and values that instruct our lives. The department offers a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies, as well as a minor in both of these areas. Learn more at https://philrel.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, one stand-alone academic program, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. There are approximately 6,100 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian's general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 20,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.