Palestinian novelist wins Arabic fiction prize

Abu Dhabi: Celebrating the best of Arabic fiction and writing, the 2018 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) was awarded in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday; this year’s prize went to Palestinian novelist Ebrahim Nasrallah for his book The Second War of the Dog.

Launched in 2008, the prize – which is supported by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, in partnership with the Brooker Prize Foundation – aims to promote the best of Arabic fiction, and has since become recognised as the Arab world’s premier literature award, attracting entries from across the region.

This year’s other five finalists hailed from Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iraq, Syria, and Palestine. All finalists are given a cash prize of $10,000 (Dh36,729), with $50,000 (Dh183,645) awarded to the winner.

“I would like to thank the judging panel who have selected my novel as the winner for this year’s IPAF. I would also like to thank my colleagues alongside me, I have taken a great pleasure in reading their writings and have found these writers to be worthy competitors,” said Nasrallah after winning the prize.

“The novel is about blind extremism and violence, and how such acts are not merely carried out by extremist groups but by organisations and others who claim to be open but, instead impose their views on others by virtue of violence,” he added, speaking of his inspiration behind his book.

“As a writer, when you come out of such a writing experience you feel like you have added another burden to yourself because you become conscious and aware of the problems you are bringing attention to,” he said, giving an insight into his experience of what it was like to write his novel.

Nasrallah went on to hail the IPAF and the platform it has created for Arab novelists and intellectuals, one that is open to creativity and new ideas.

“I salute the panel of judges and the IPAF, they make us feel the importance of being continuously creative, which they accept with an open mind and tolerance.

“In the past when we were children we used to listen to the beautiful tales of our mothers and grandmothers, and we now recall and follow such examples in our writings to try and make an impact for the world,” he added, highlighting the importance of preserving the culture of stories and writing. 

Fleur Montanaro, the IPAF’s administrator, commenting on the award and its goal of spreading Arabic writings around the world, said that 39 of its books have been translated into 24 other languages.

“39 works of fiction submitted to the IPAF have been translated into 24 languages. We are always happy to open new horizons for Arab authors so that their voices are heard everywhere.

“Our aim is to offer new readers different perspectives of the world by works of fiction and contrasting artistic styles” she added.

List of winner and finalists

Ebrahim Nasrallah, Palestine, The Second Dog of War, Arabic Scientific Publishers – Winner

Amir Tag Elsir, Sudan, Flowers in Flames, Dar Al Saqi

Aziz Mohammad, Saudi Arabia, The Critical Case of “K”, Dar Tanweer

Shahad Al Rawi, Iraq, The Baghdad Clock, Dar al-Hikma

Walid Shurafa, Palestine, Heir of the Tombstones, Al Ahlia

Dima Wannous, Syria, The Frightened Ones, Dar Al Adab



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