I just heard about the newly created “International Prize for Arabic Fiction,” which this year went to Egyptian author Baha Taher for his book ‘Sunset Oasis’, a book that explores one man’s existential crisis.
The winning book will get published throughout the Arab world, and translated outside of it, thus helping the author gain a wider readership. The cash awards included; which are: $10,000 for shortlisted authors, $50,000 for the winner; should also give a good boost to authors in the Arab worldm a region where it is nearly impossible to live off of writing up to now.
The list of finalists included:
– June Rain by Jabbour Douaihy (Lebanon)
– The Land of Purgatory by Elias Farkouh (Jordan)
– In Praise of Hatred by Khaled Khalifa (Syria)
– Walking in the Dust by May Menassa (Lebanon)
– Swan Song by Mekkaoui Said (Egypt)
– Sunset Oasis by Baha Taher (Egypt)
I think it’s a great idea, certainly more than welcome, and hopefully it will play its important role and breathe life into the Arab book world, encouraging more authors and publishers to write and publish.
It’s a shame that there are no authors from the Arab Maghreb on the list of finalists, more should be done from both sides, the organizers and Maghreb publishing houses/authors, to ensure they are included in the future.
I haven’t read any of the books on the finalists list, but one sure thing is that I’ll be looking for them in the Tunis Book Fair that isn’t too far away now.