It took a great deal of work over the last two years to get this series off the ground, but we are quite pleased with the first fruits of our labors—an impressively wide-ranging anthology of poetry and prose; a foundational document of Islamic legal theory; and a compilation of the sayings and wisdom of a widely revered figure from early Islam. Hopefully that should convey some of the scope and ambition we have for the series, with more to come (please take a look at this site’s “Books” page for details about these books, as well as more LAL books that will be published later this summer.)
The editor-translators (Geert Jan van Gelder, Joseph E. Lowry, and Tahera Qutbuddin), with their scholarly rigor and sensitivity to language, are the primary reasons for these books’ excellence; their work was particularly challenging since they had to face all the snags involved in launching a new series. But I should also mention some others who made these books possible, starting with the Library of Arabic Literature Editorial Board, who over the last two years laid the groundwork for the series as a whole, from wrestling with the scope of these books to formalizing our guidelines for Arabic editions, reviewing manuscripts, and determining what we mean by “modern, lucid English translations.” Led by General Editor Philip Kennedy (and aided by Executive Editors James Montgomery and Shawkat Toorawa), the Board has created the framework for what we hope will be many more books over the next several years.
On the design and production side, credit is due to Stuart Brown, our digital production manager, whose XML and layout expertise ensure that these pre-modern Arabic texts are fully at home in the 21st century and look good on the page and onscreen. Likewise, thanks go to typographer Thomas Milo, whose design advice was invaluable as we got the series up and running. Milo (along with Mirjam Somers) is the designer of DecoType Naskh, the calligraphic typeface we use for the Arabic body text in our books. And a thank you as well to our calligraphers, Joshua Berer and Nihad Nadam, for their work on the jackets.
Before this blog post devolves into an Oscar acceptance speech, I will end here by simply noting that we will be posting on this blog on a semi-regular basis, so please keep an eye out for future posts—about upcoming events, new LAL publications, reviews of our books, and posts by and about our editor-translators!
Managing Editor, Library of Arabic Literature