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Kurdish Romeo and Juliet gets new translation

The translator of a new edition of the classic Kurdish love story, Mem and Zin, hopes the saga will cement Kurds’ place in world literature. 

Mem and Zin is the tragic 17th century tale of lovers from different clans who meet a tragic end after their families deny their love. They were buried next to each other in Cizre, modern day Turkey. 

A tale of love and betrayal, it has been dubbed a Kurdish Romeo and Juliet.

Author Ahmad Khani, a beloved Kurdish poet and philosopher, died in 1707.

“A great writer like Ahmad Khani has been treated unfairly. Brits have Shakespeare, Germans have Goethe and Schiller, Persians have Ferdowsi, Jami and Hafiz and Kurds have Khani,” said translator Feryad Fazil Omar. 

His goal is to “cause literary history to be revised and Khani’s Mem u Zin shall enter the pages of world literature.”  

Omar translated the epic into German for the first time and completed an English version with American poet Mitch Cohen. 

It is a project he has wanted to do for 36 years, he told Rudaw. The actual translation took three years to perfect. 




By Rudaw