The winner of the 2024 Commonwealth Short Story Prize has been announced. Find out more.


Posted on 21/02/2019
By Commonwealth Foundation
About the Symposium Public event

Translation Symposium participants

Nazry Bahrawi (Singapore) is an academic, essayist and translator from Singapore who has published research articles on cultural translation and translation theory. As a practitioner, he has translated two works of Bahasa literary prose into English. Nazry is currently serving as a judge for the regional MASTERA translation prize for Bahasa poetry in Singapore. He was formerly interview editor of Asymptote, an online journal dedicated to translations of world literature.


Tan Dan Feng (Singapore) is a translator and publisher. He was formerly director of Asian books specialist Select Books and currently chairs The Select Centre, a not-for-profit organisation focused on intercultural literary exchange that was shortlisted for the London Book Fair International Excellence Award for Best Literary Translation Initiative. He has been involved in the translation programmes at NTU, NUS and SIM University as course coordinator, lecturer, adjunct faculty and academic advisory board member, and was a member of the Programme Committee of the 8th Asia Pacific Translation and Interpreting Forum. Books that he has edited or co-edited include Singapore Shifting BoundariesIndonesia Rising: Islam, Democracy and the Rise of Indonesia as a Major Power and The Chinese in Indonesia. Recently, he oversaw the production of the largest Singapore Chinese-English bilingual dictionary and a history of Malay poetry in Singapore. His latest book is Living in Babel: Singapore Literature in Translation.


Khademul Islam (Bangladesh) is a writer, translator and editor based in Dhaka. He is the Director of Bengal Lights Books publications, a board member of Dhaka Translation Centre, and the editor of Bangladesh’s premier English-language literary journal Bengal Lights. He has published two books of English translations of Bengali short fiction and poems. He was the literary editor of two dailies (Dhaka Tribune and Daily Star), where he encouraged English translations in Bangladesh. His short stories have been included in anthologies, and he is a frequent contributor to national and international publications.


Eddin Khoo (Malaysia) is a poet, writer, translator, and journalist. He is the founder of PUSAKA, one of the region’s leading cultural centres. He has worked intimately with masters of traditional arts including shadow puppeteers, musicians, dramatists and dancers, researching oral transmission, cultural and religious politics, and aspects of ritual in traditional theatre. In recognition of his work in culture, Eddin was selected as one of the Asians of the Year 2006 by Channel News Asia, Singapore. Eddin Khoo is co-author of a book on traditional Malay woodcarving, The Spirit of Wood, and co-editor of an autobiography of the celebrated Malaysian artist Ibrahim Hussein, entitled Ib: A Life (2010). He has translated works the Indonesian poet Goenawan Mohamad and the Malaysian poet Latiff Mohidin into English, and the poetry of Christpoher Merrill into Malay. He is presently compiling and editing the complete writings of his father, the Malaysian historian Khoo Kay Kim.


Hoori Noorani (Pakistan) holds a Master’s degree in Philology from the Russian People’s Friendship University, Moscow, with an additional diploma of Teacher of Russian language as a foreign language. She is fluent in three languages: Urdu, English and Russian. She is the proprietor of a publishing house specialising in Urdu fiction and non-fiction books. They have published translations of Chekhov as well as other Russian writers, and Urdu translations of Milan Kundera, Amin Malouf, selected interviews from The Paris Review (3 volumes), Tahar Bin Jelloun, and others. They are about to publish the Urdu translation of Mohammed Hanif’s much-acclaimed novel The Case of Exploding Mangoes. Hoori has worked as editor for Oxford University Press’s English translation of N. Prigarina’s book on the poet Ghalib, and has also translated, from Russian into Urdu, Henrich Borovik’s play Interview in Buenos Aires.


Shabnam Nadiya (Bangladesh) is a writer and translator based in California. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, her work has been published in Flash Fiction International, AsymptoteOne WorldAl Jazeera Online, Pank, Amazon’s Day One, Chicago Quarterly Review, Weber: The Contemporary West, Wasafiri, Words Without Borders, and Gulf Coast. She has also translated Moinul Ahsan Saber’s novel The Mercenary; and Shaheen Akhtar’s novel Beloved Rongomala. Further information at:


Khoo Salma Nasution (Malaysia) writes about local history and heritage. She has authored or co-authored more than a dozen non-fiction books. She is the commissioning editor of Areca Books, a small Penang-based publisher, founded in 2005, which has published almost 50 titles to date. She is not a professional translator but gets irked when she comes across bad translations; thinking, ‘hmm… I could do better’, she finds herself translating short passages from Malay to English, or phrases from Hokkien to English. She enjoys working with translators. She commissioned, and was one of several editors of, P. Singaram’s Beyond The Sea, the English version of a Tamil novel set in 1940s Penang, translated by the late Dr R. Karthigesu.


Nora Nazerene Abu Bakar (Singapore) is the Executive Editor of Penguin Random House Southeast Asia, which set up its headquarters in Singapore in November 2018. She is responsible for establishing a publishing presence by building the regional publishing list, managing acquisitions and author relationships. Nora has twelve years of experience in the publishing industry, during which she served in several positions in Pearson Education South Asia and, most recently, Marshall Cavendish Education. As an Acquisitions Manager with Marshall Cavendish, Nora played a key role in growing the company’s core lists comprising print and digital content, with which it maintains its position as a market leader in the Singapore K-12 market, and expands its reach into the surrounding region.


Al-Mustaqeem M. Radhi (Malaysia) is a Kuala Lumpur-based translator, writer and editor. As a translator into Malay, he has published some 30 books, including George Orwell’s Animal Farm (as Politik Kandang) and Ibn Rusyd’s (Averroes) Decisive Treatise and Epistle Dedicatory (as Makalah Penentu Hubungan antara Syariah dan Falsafah). He is currently translating T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and Nikola Madzirov’s Remnants of Another Age. He is also the chief editor at IBDE Ilham, a publishing house based in Selangor, Malaysia.


Anushiya Ramaswamy (Sri Lanka) grew up in Colombo and is currently a Professor of English at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. She teaches Theory of Composition, Rhetoric, African American Literature, and Postcolonial Studies. Anushiya’s work has appeared in World Literature Today, Callaloo, and her translation of Gorilla, the first Tamil novel by the Sri Lankan Tamil writer Shobasakthi, was published in 2008 and Traitor, the second, in 2010. She has also translated a collection of poetry by N.D. Rajkumar, Give Us This Day A Feast of Flesh. A translation of a selection of Shobasakthi’s short stories, The MGR Murder Trial, came out in 2015. Anushiya was also one of the three translators of the international poetry collection In Our Translated World: Contemporary Global Tamil Poetry. She is currently working on translating the novel Box by Shobasakthi and poetry by the Sri Lankan diaspora poet Cheran.


Gareth Richards (Malaysia-UK), is a former academic, writer, editor and bookseller based in Penang, Malaysia. He is the director of Impress Creative & Editorial, an editorial agency providing services to publishers and authors, including bilingual texts and translations (English, Malay, Mandarin). He founded Gerakbudaya Bookshop and the new arts space Hikayat. As co-curator of the George Town Literary Festival, he is the convener of the festival’s Translation Roundtable. He is the co-author/editor of Asia–Europe Interregionalism: Critical Perspectives, and wrote the texts for two books of photography: Portraits of Penang: Little India and Panicrama.


Mamta Sagar (India) has translated poetry, prose and critical writings from Kannada into English and from English and other Indian languages into Kannada. She is a recipient of the Charles Wallace translation fellowship 2015. She has been part of International Poetry Translation Workshops such as Poets Translating Poets (Germany), Small and Big Languages (Slovenian), Literature Across Frontiers (Wales), Melding Voices (UK) and has translated contemporary poets from all over the world. Mamta has translated Poems by Dylan Thomas into Kannada; collaborated with Nicola Verderame in translating her poems from Kannada into Italian (2016); and translated and edited Beyond Barriers: Slovenian-Kannada Literature Interactions a trilingual compilation of poems and short stories. Preetiya Nalavattu NiyamagaLu, her translation of the novel The Forty Rules of Love into Kannada, received the Kuvempu Bhashabharathi Translation Award 2019.


Muhammad Haji Salleh (Malaysia) has had a long involvement with translation. Beginning with poetry he has crossed over to classical hikayats, novels and literary theory. Muhammad translates from and into Malay and English. He tackles important narratives like the Hikayat Hang Tuah, Mishima’s Spring Snow, Fauconnier’s Malaisie. He has also rendered into Malay Terry Eagleton’s Literary Theory; an Introduction, and into English a book of Malay proverbs: Jendela Bijaksana/Window into Wisdom. At present he is editing his new version of Sulalat al-Salatin/Malay Annals.


Arunava Sinha (India) translates Bengali literature into English, and English and other literatures into Bengali. His 50th translation will be published in May 2019. His translations have won several awards in India, and have been shortlisted for a number of international awards. He teaches translation and journalism at Ashoka University, and is the Books Editor at



Bilal Tanweer (Pakistan) is a novelist and translator. His novel The Scatter Here Is Too Great won the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize and was shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and the Chautauqua Prize. The novel was also translated into French and German. Tanweer’s first work of translation was a classic of Urdu pulp fiction The House of Fear by Ibn-e Safi. His recent translation of a novel and stories Love in Chakiwara and Other Misadventures by Muhammad Khalid Akhtar received the PEN Translation Fund Grant. His writings have appeared in local and international magazines including Words Without BordersGranta, The New York Times, Dawn, and The Caravan. He lives and teaches in Lahore.


Minakshi Thakur (India) currently works for Westland Publications as Publisher of its language imprint, EKA, which publishes original content and translations in ten Indian languages including English. Before this, she worked with HarperCollins India, where she was in charge of its imprint for translations into English, Harper Perennial, and its Hindi publishing programme, Harper Hindi. She is also a bi-lingual poet and writer. Her collection of Hindi poems, Neend Ka Akhiri Pul was shortlisted for the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar in 2012. She has been fellow to many international writer residencies. Her first novel, Lovers Like You and I, was shortlisted for the Tibor Jones South Asia Prize 2013.


Jayapriya Vasudevan (India) has more than twenty years’ experience of working in publishing. With a partner, she set up India’s first bookstore café in Bangalore. In 1997, she set up Jacaranda, India’s first ever literary agency. Following a stint living in Beijing, where she continued to develop her list, Jayapriya moved to Singapore in 2006, setting up Books@Jacaranda Literary Agency. She moved on to live in Nairobi and has recently moved back to India. Jayapriya has spoken at literary conferences all over the world. She also runs a regular course at Bangalore’s World–Famous Semi–Deluxe writing programme, and was the Festival Director for 2017 and 2018 Times Lit Fest in Bangalore.



Commonwealth Foundation staff and partners


  Emma D’Costa has worked with the Commonwealth Foundation as a consultant since 1995, managing a range of events and projects. In her current role she oversees the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and manages Commonwealth Writers’ translation initiatives. Emma has many years’ experience of curating exhibitions, organising events and managing arts projects with a focus on world cultures. As Visual Arts Officer at the Commonwealth Institute she curated a large number of international exhibitions. As Head of Project Development at London-based arts organisation Cultural Co-operation, she worked with artists from London’s national and faith communities, as well as putting together talks and spoken word programmes for the Music Village Festivals, and organising a major conference on diaspora literature in 2005.


Myn Garcia, Deputy Director-General, has responsibility for Programmes including Grants. She led the Foundation in developing its Strategic Framework for 2012-16 and 2017-2020; integrating results-based management across the organisation. Her areas of expertise are participatory governance, peacebuilding, gender, cultural diversity, communications for development, capacity development and knowledge management.



Leo Kiss plays a key role in creating and coordinating the Foundation’s communications in Commonwealth countries. His role also involves capturing learning from our projects and communicating the findings with partners. Leo has several years’ experience working in multilateral settings; before joining the Foundation, he worked on communications campaigns at United Nations summits for the International Drug Policy Consortium.


Vijay Krishnarayan is the Director-General of the Commonwealth Foundation. He has supported civil society organisations in the United Kingdom, Caribbean and the wider Commonwealth over the last 30 years. A land-use planner by training, he has a special interest in the relationship between development and the environment. Before joining the Commonwealth Foundation in 2006, he spent over a decade in the Caribbean, most notably as Managing Partner for the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), one of the region’s sustainable development think tanks.

Daniela Leykam is an Art Historian based in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. She currently works as Programme Manager of Arts and Culture at KfW Stiftung, an operative non-profit organisation. Her responsibilities aim to enhance transcultural dialogue and cultural diversity by initiating creative platforms for international contemporary arts with a focus on Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. A strong emphasis of her work are residency programmes for artists and curators as well as the literature programme “Short Stories” which aims to support talented young writers in the Middle East writing in Arabic. Before recently joining the foundation, Daniela Leykam developed and organised arts and culture activities at the European Central Bank and has several years of experience in the cultural sector, including museums and galleries. She has obtained a Masters Degree in Art History and Curatorial Studies at Goethe University Frankfurt, Städelschule – Academy of Fine Arts and University College Dublin.


Wale Ogunleye joined the Commonwealth Foundation in 2011. He is involved in all areas of grant-making and management across the Foundation’s grant streams. As a Senior Grants Officer he plays a key role in the assessment of applications and their eventual recommendation for grant awards, in addition to responding to grant implementation issues and challenges. Wale has experience in proposal development, project management, and grants administration and management having worked in international development before joining the Foundation. He is motivated by positive changes in the lives of people and communities arising from grant and project activities.


Janet Steel leads commonwealth writers, the cultural initiative of the Commonwealth Foundation. Prior to this post Janet has spent over thirty years working in the cultural sector, primarily in theatre and new writing. Starting out as a young actress Janet quickly moved into directing, producing and script development. In 2012 she won an award for her commitment and encouragement of new writing from The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain. For thirteen years Janet was Artistic Director for Kali Theatre Company specialising in new writing by South Asian Women. During her tenure she developed, produced and directed 20 new plays which toured nationally, encouraged and nurtured over a hundred new writers for public readings, devised and managed several new writing festivals. From duel heritage, Indian South African and British, Janet is passionately committed to inclusion and equality and has long been a campaigner for freedom of speech and cultural diversity in the arts and has sat on advisory panels for Universities, The Arts Council and DCMS.


James Tennant, Programme Officer, manages the annual Commonwealth Short Story Prize, and is the Editor of adda; with colleagues in the Commonwealth Writers team and partner organisations he works on various cultural initiatives, events, and book projects. Before joining the Foundation, James was Literature and Partnerships Manager at the global freedom of expression organisation PEN International, where he set up the New Voices Award and ran the Free the Word! event series, Publishers Circle, and Writers Circle. Prior to PEN he was Europe Manager for Dalkey Archive Press and before that worked as an editor and ghostwriter in Switzerland. James is a journalist and translator and has worked as a consultant for Arts Council England, the EU’s CreativeEurope programme and UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. He enjoys photography and travelling and is a Contributing Editor at The White Review, where he was formerly Poetry Editor.