Bayyud, In'am (1953–)

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Bayyud, In'am

A trilingual Algerian scholar specializing in translation, In'am Bayyud teaches translation and interpretation at the University of Algiers. In 2004 she was nominated minister plenipotentiary by the Arab League, and appointed director of the High Arab Institute for Translation located in Algiers, Algeria.


Bayyud was born in Damascus, Syria, on 24 January 1953 to a Syrian mother and an Algerian father. She spent her childhood and early adolescence in Damascus, but in 1966 her family moved to Algiers, Algeria, where Bayyud pursued her high school education at the Egyptian school. She later decided to study architecture in Damascus, a field closely connected to art, which remains her first love. She left Damascus in 1973 and enrolled in the École des Beaux Arts in Algiers. She finally opted for a degree in translation and interpretation and received a bachelor's degree in 1979 followed in 1992 by a master's degree in translation. Bayyud is a divorced mother of two girls, Abla and Aida, to whom she dedicated her collection of poetry.

Bayyud began writing poetry at an early age. She published her first poems in the Algerian press, al-Jaza'iriyya, al-Sha 'b, and al-Mujahid. She more recently wrote two books: a collection of poetry titled Rasa'il lam Tursal (2003; Letters that were not sent), and a novel, al-Samak la Yubali (2004; The fish do not care). The latter received the Malek Haddad Award. Samira Negrouche translated her collection of poetry into French under the title Poste Restante. Bayyud is also a painter whose artistic gift for painting manifested itself at a young age. She organized her first exhibit for oil paintings and drawings at age eleven.

While teaching translation and interpretation at the universities of Oran and Algiers, Bayyud translated pedagogical books, art books, children's books, novels, film scenarios, short films, and documentaries. Parallel to her literary activities she pursues her passion: painting. In 1975 she took part in a collective exhibit when still a student. Other exhibitions followed, some collective, others individual.

The year 2004 was a turning point in Bayyud's life when she assumed the directorship of the High Arab Institute for Translation. Two years after her appointment to the position, the institute opened its doors to students wishing to receive a master's degree in translation and interpretation. The mission of the institute is primarily geared toward the translation of scientific texts and the use of technology-based translations. In the few years since its establishment, the teaching faculty at the institute published four books, a result of their collective activity. Moreover, the institute is in charge of a translation project that includes one hundred titles from Algerian literature as part of the preparation for the celebration of "Algiers, Capital of Arabic Culture for 2007."

Much of Bayyud's early childhood memories are detailed in her semiautobiographical novel al-Samak la Yubali. The novel tells the story of friendship and coexistence among the various religious communities in Damascus. It sheds light on the attachment of young In'am, represented by Nur in the novel, to her Syrian culture. The second half the novel takes place in Algiers and makes faint allusions to the events of the black decade in Algeria, against the background of a love story. The protagonist, similar to the author, is a painter who finds peace and comfort in her work, a peace often shattered by the tragic events of the 1990s. Bayyud is undoubtedly speaking for many Algerian intellectuals when she refers to the feeling of guilt her protagonist experienced by being alive while famous personalities, renowned thinkers, writers, lawyers, and doctors were assassinated. In the rare direct mention of the tragic events, she condemns strongly and unambiguously the killing of innocent people, especially children "slaughtered on the altar of ignorance, a sacrifice to a crazy and savage paganism that acquired a false name and a diabolical mien" (2004, p. 39). Those sentiments are echoed in her poem "Tariquna" (Our path), where she writes,

    Oh martyrs, we apologize
    For being alive. (p. 61)

Despite the tragedy she maintains an optimistic outlook on life as she writes in Al-Zaman al-Mutasahhir (Desertification of time):

    My voice will one day be free
    I will install a tribune above the tomb of science/knowledge
    I will shout to the face of those who accuse us of blasphemy:
    The voice of reason will win over the way of the sword,
    Because on this good land,
    All that is dry, is green. (p. 71)

The novel freely and openly describes the romantic and sexual experiences of the characters, in line with a growing trend among Arab women writers. Despite her audacious approach Bayyud does not fall in the trap of vulgarity that is sometimes seen as part of the freedom displayed in love stories. She shows taste and sensitivity handling a topic that could have easily become crude in the name of emancipation and realism.


Name: In'am Bayyud

Birth: 1953, Damascus, Syria

Family: Divorced; two daughters: Abla, Aida

Nationality: Algerian

Education: B.A. (interpretation and translation), École des Beaux Arts, Algiers, 1979; M.A. (translation), École des Beaux Arts, Algiers, 1992


  • 2003: Publishes collection of poetry, Rasa'il lam Tursal
  • 2004: Publishes novel, al-Samak la Yubali; nominated minister plenipotentiary by the Arab League; appointed director of the High Arab Institute for Translation

Bayyud's poetry reveals a deep delicacy in emotions and a transparency in the expression. One of the many poems that command the reader's attention in the collection is titled, "A Letter to Jesus." Skillfully, she sides with Christ and expresses her love for him based on the recommendations of her own Muslim religion; she wonders,

   How he permits love to die
   in his country
   with a quiet conscience. (pp. 18-19)


Bayyud's work in the field of translation helps disseminate knowledge and establish links in Algeria where the existence of two parallel languages and cultures still divide the citizens of the country. Thus, the availability of translated books in the two languages—French and Arabic—give each side the opportunity to know the other, rather than the two living as enemy brothers.

Her published translations include two novels, rachid boudjedra's Fascination (2002) and yasmina khadra's L'écrivain (2003). She translated Boudjedra's collection of poetry, Pour ne plus rêver (1980), and a book on painting by Nadera Lagoune, Alger dans la peinture (2000). Bayyud also published a book on the theory of translation, titled La traduction littéraire: problèmes et solutions.


Bayyud is certainly contributing to her society's culture through her teaching at the University of Algiers and at the High Arab Institute for Translate, forming a multilingual generation with an appreciation for languages. Her individual and collective translation projects provide the monolingual Arab reader access to Western thinking and knowledge. She is working on the publication of a multilingual art book that highlights the universal values of Islam throughout the centuries. Her aim is to project the image of a tolerant and a peaceful Islam at a time when that religion is maligned and misrepresented.

Bayyud has a far-reaching impact on her readers through her poetry readings organized throughout the country. She is an excellent interpreter of her poems and renders their meaning effectively.


As a creative writer, Bayyud is sure to leave a legacy through her work. Despite her late beginning, she managed, with one collection of poetry and a single novel, to attract the attention of readers and critics. Her work to date demonstrates an ability to address the issues of the moment through her writing. For example, in her poem "A Letter to Noah," she calls for a flood to wash away the blood that flows in the streets of Algeria; she uses strong, poignant words to make a point about current events in her country. Additionally, Bayyud's work as a translator of Algerian Arabic and French work has helped Algerians cross cultural boundaries within their own country. More books are forthcoming in the professional life of a creative active writer and academician.


Bayyud, Inam. Al-Tarjamah Al-Adabiya: Mashakil wa Hulul. Beirut: Dar al-Farabi, 2003.

――――――. Al-Samak la Yubali. Beirut: Dar al-Farabi, 2004.

                                                Aida A. Bamia