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The Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi
wins 2013 International Prize for Arabic Fiction
• First Kuwaiti author to win the Prize
• Youngest author to win Prize at 31 years of age
• Novel offers a daring look at the plight of foreign workers in the Gulf region
The Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi was announced the winner of the sixth International Prize for Arabic Fiction on Tuesday 23 April 2013.
The winner was named by this year’s Chair of Judges, the Egyptian writer and academic Galal Amin, at a prize ceremony in Abu Dhabi. In addition to winning $50,000, Alsanousi is guaranteed an English translation of his novel, as well as increased book sales and international recognition.
A daring work which looks objectively at the phenomenon of foreign workers in Gulf countries, The Bamboo Stalk is the story of Issa, the son of a Kuwaiti father and a Filipino mother.
On returning to his father’s homeland as an adult, Issa finds himself in a difficult position. Rather than the mythical country his mother has described to him, he discovers he is caught between the natural, biological ties he shares with his father’s family and the prejudices of a traditional society, which views a child of Kuwaiti-Filipino heritage as socially unacceptable. Skilfully constructed, The Bamboo Stalk is a story of great strength and depth which questions identity in modern society.
Born in 1981, Alsanousi is the youngest writer to win the Prize. The Bamboo Stalk is his second novel; his first, Prisoner of Mirrors, was published in 2010.
The Bamboo Stalk has been chosen as the best work of fiction from the last 12 months, selected from 133 submissions from across the Arab World.
On behalf of the 2013 Judging Panel, Galal Amin commented on the winning novel: "The members of the Judging Panel are delighted that The Bamboo Stalk has won the Prize. All the Judges agreed on the superior quality of this novel, both artistically and also in terms of its social and humanitarian content."
The six finalists, pictured here at the award ceremony just before the announcement, were chosen from the longlist of 16 which was announced in December 2012.
Saud Alsanousi, the winner, and Mohammed Hasan Alwan
Sinan Antoon and Jana Fawaz Elhassan
Ibrahim Issa and Hussein Al-Wad
All six shortlisted finalists were honoured at the ceremony, including the winner. Each received an award of $10,000.
The novels were selected from 133 entries from 15 countries, all published in 2012. The other five shortlisted novels are:
Hail Mary by Sinan Antoon
Me, Her and Other Women by Jana Fawaz Elhassan
The Beaver by Mohammed Hasan Alwan
Our Master by Ibrahim Issa
His Excellency the Minister by Hussein Al-Wad
The six names on the shortlist were announced in January, in Tunis, by a distinguished panel of academics and cultural figures. Chaired by Galal Amin, the Judging Panel is: Lebanese academic and critic Sobhi al-Boustani; Ali Ferzat, who is head of the Arab Cartoonists' Association, and owner and chief editor of the independent Syrian daily newspaper Al-Domari; Polish academic and Professor of Arabic Literature at the Arts College of the Jagiellonian University of Cracow, Barbara Michalak-Pikulska, and Professor Zahia Smail Salhi, lecturer in Arabic Literature Classical and Modern and Gender Studies at Manchester University.
The Prize is supported by the Booker Prize Foundation in London and funded by the TCA Abu Dhabi in the UAE, which marks its first year as the new sponsor of the Prize in 2013.
Jonathan Taylor, Chair of the Board of IPAF Trustees, comments: "The Prize has a history of discovering new voices and we’ve done that again this year. The Judges have been working without fear or favour with their sole objective to identify the best of Arabic fiction published over the last year. We salute a distinguished shortlist and congratulate an outstanding winner."
To date, five of the six winning novels have secured deals for publication in English. Overall, winning and shortlisted books since 2008 have been translated into over 20 languages.
For further information about the Prize, please visit www.arabicfiction.org or follow the Prize on Facebook.
23 April 2013