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Ibrahim Nasrallah wins
2018 International Prize for Arabic Fiction
· Previously shortlisted and longlisted
Jordanian-Palestinian novelist Ibrahim Nasrallah wins 2018 Prize
· His novel, The Second War of the Dog, is set in a future world
The Second War of the Dog by Ibrahim Nasrallah was announced on Tuesday 24 April 2018,as the winner of the 11th International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF).
The novel, published by Arab Scientific Publishers, was named as this year’s winner by the Chair of Judges, Ibrahim Al Saafin, at a ceremony at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi. In addition to winning $50,000, funding will be provided for the English translation of The Second War of the Dog, and Ibrahim Nasrallah can expect an increase in book sales and international recognition.
The Chair of Judges, Ibrahim Al Saafin, says:
‘The Second War of the Dog is a masterful vision of a dystopian future in a nameless country, using fantasy and science fiction techniques. With humour and insight, it exposes the tendency towards brutality inherent in society, imagining a time where human and moral values have been discarded and anything is permissible, even the buying and selling of human souls.’
The novel focuses on the corrupt main character, Rashid, who changes from an opponent of the regime to a materialistic and unscrupulous extremist. Nasrallah reveals the intrinsic savagery in human beings, as he describes a futuristic world where greed intensifies and human values and ethics are ignored.
Professor Yasir Suleiman, Chair of the Board of IPAF Trustees, comments:
‘Ibrahim Nasrallah’s novel paints a chilling picture of humanity in all its destructive potential. Without a moral compass, the protagonist lets go of the normal bounds that constrain human behaviour. Nasrallah expertly draws the reader into this world from different vantage points, using crisp language in which humour makes the moral burden of relating to the main character “bearable”, or just so. His win is an accolade well-deserved.’
Ibrahim Nasrallah was born in 1954 to Palestinian parents who were uprooted from their land in 1948. He spent his childhood in the Alwehdat Palestinian Refugee Camp in Amman, Jordan and began his working life as a teacher in Saudi Arabia. After returning to Amman, he worked as a journalist and for the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation. Since 2006, he has been a full-time writer and has acted as a mentor to emerging writers at IPAF’s annual nadwa (writers’ workshop), in 2014 and 2016.
Four of his novels and a volume of poetry have been translated into English, including: Time of White Horses, which was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2009; and Lanterns of the King of Galilee, longlisted in 2013. In a 2012 review of Time of White Horses, the New Statesman praised Nasrallah’s “intensely eloquent voice [that] gives Western audiences an insight into the lives of the marginalised”.
After his shortlisting, Ibrahim Nasrallah said in an exclusive film for IPAF:
‘The novel was written to provoke the reader, to worry the reader, to even, sometimes, make them breathless. The Second War of the Dog is, in my opinion, a warning of what we could become in the future …The novel starts off at the moment of a loss of certainty, that loss of trust in those whom you interact closely with – that neighbour, brother, father, or whoever it may be. The novel suggests that if we continue on our current path, we will reach a future where we would become mostly annihilistic.’
The Second War of the Dog was chosen by the IPAF judges as the best work of fiction published between July 2016 and June 2017 from 124 entries from 14 countries. Alongside chair Ibrahim Al Saafin, who is a Jordanian academic, critic, poet, novelist and playwright, the 2018 judges were: Inam Bioud, an Algerian academic, translator, novelist and poet; Jamal Mahjoub, a Sudanese-English writer and novelist; Mahmoud Shukair, a Palestinian short story writer and novelist; and Barbara Skubic, a Slovenian writer and translator.
The five shortlisted finalists, Amir Tag Elsir, Aziz Mohammed, Shahad Al Rawi, Walid Shurafa and Dima Wannous were also honoured at the ceremony, each receiving $10,000. Ahead of the announcement, the shortlisted authors took part in an event at the National Theatre in Abu Dhabi hosted by the Emirates Writers Union and NYU Abu Dhabi Institute, and chaired by Sudanese novelist Ann El Safi. Walid Shurafa also spoke about his shortlisted novel Heir of the Tombstones at the NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery in connection with an exhibition Permanent Temporariness, which focuses on the lives of Palestinian refugees
Ibrahim Nasrallah will participate in his first public event as the winner of the Prize, alongside the five shortlisted authors, on 25 April, the opening day of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. The event will run from 7-9.30pm at the Sea of Culture Foundation Stand (12B36), under the patronage of Sheikha Sheikha bint Mohammed bin Khalid Al Nahyan.
Fulfilling its ambition to increase the international reach of Arabic fiction, the Prize provides funding for English translation for its winners. This year has seen the publication of 2014 winner Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad by Oneworld in the UK and Penguin Books in the US. The novel has been widely and positively reviewed: “brave and ingenious,” by The New York Times and “hallucinatory and hilarious … and remarkable” by The Guardian. Its translation rights have been sold for a further 14 languages including Cantonese and Mandarin, and its English translation was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in April 2018. In March 2018, 2016 winner Rabai al-Madhoun’s Fractured Destinies was published by Hoopoe Fiction.
Other winners already available in English include Baha Taher’s Sunset Oasis in 2009 and Youssef Ziedan’s Azazeel in 2012. English translations of Abdo Khal’s Spewing Sparks as Big as Castles and Mohammed Achaari’s The Arch and the Butterfly were published in 2014. Saud Alsanousi’s The Bamboo Stalk was published in 2015 and Raja Alem’s novel, The Dove’s Necklace, in 2016.
The translation rights for two of the books on this year’s shortlist have already been sold. Shahad Al Rawi’s The Baghdad Clock has been translated by Luke Leafgren and will be published in May by Oneworld Publications. Dima Wannous’ The Frightened Ones has been translated by Elisabeth Jacquette and will be published in 2019 in the UK by Harvill Secker and in the US by Knopf Doubleday. From the 2017 shortlist, In the Spider’s Room by Mohammed Abdel Nabi has been translated into English by Jonathan Wright and will be published by Hoopoe Fiction in July.
The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is an annual literary prize for prose fiction in Arabic. It is run with the support, as its mentor, of the Booker Prize Foundation in London and sponsored by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi).
For further information about the Prize, please visit www.arabicfiction.org
or follow the Prize on Facebook @InternationalPrizeforArabicFiction
For further information on the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi,
please contact: Amena Abdulla Khoori +971 2 599 5395 / AKhoori@dctabudhabi.ae
· The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is awarded for prose fiction in Arabic and each of the six shortlisted finalists receives $10,000, with a further $50,000 going to the winner. For further information about the Prize, please visit www.arabicfiction.org or follow the Prize on Facebook: www.facebook.com/InternationalPrizeArabicFiction
· The first 10 winners of the Prize are:
2008: Sunset Oasis by Bahaa Taher (Egypt)
2009: Azazeel by Youssef Ziedan (Egypt)
2010: Spewing Sparks as Big as Castles by Abdo Khal (Saudi Arabia)
2011: The Arch and the Butterfly by Mohammed Achaari (Morocco) and The Doves' Necklace by Raja Alem (Saudi Arabia)
2012: The Druze of Belgrade by Rabee Jaber (Lebanon)
2013: The Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi (Kuwait)
2014: Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (Iraq)
2015: The Italian by Shukri Mabkhout (Tunisia)
2016: Destinies: Concerto of the Holocaust and the Nakba (Fractured Destinies) by Rabai al-Madhoun (Palestine)
2017: A Small Death by Mohammed Hasan Alwan
· An independent Board of Trustees, drawn from across the Arab world and beyond, is responsible for the overall management of the Prize. Yasir Suleiman CBE, Professor Emeritus of Arabic Studies, University of Cambridge, is Chair of Trustees and Evelyn Smith, Booker Prize Foundation, is Company Secretary. The rest of the Trustees are, in alphabetical order: Isobel Abulhoul OBE, Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature; Yassin Adnan, Moroccan journalist, broadcaster and writer; Abdulla Majed Al-Ali, executive director of the National Library, Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, and Head of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair; Nujoom Alghanem, poet, script writer & a multi-award-winning Emirati filmmaker; Rasheed El-Enany, Professor Emeritus of the University of Exeter; Omar Ghobash, UAE Ambassador to the French Republic; Michel S. Moushabeck, Founder and President of Interlink Publishing Group, Inc., writer, editor, and musician, USA; Zaki Nusseibeh, Advisor, Ministry of Presidential Affairs; Margaret Obank, Publisher and Editor, Banipal magazine of Modern Arab Literature, UK; Ahdaf Soueif, bestselling author and political and cultural commentator and Jonathan Taylor, President, Booker Prize Foundation, UK. The Prize’s Administrator is Fleur Montanaro.
· In addition to the annual Prize, IPAF supports an annual nadwa (writers’ workshop) for emerging writers from across the Arab world. The inaugural nadwa took place in November 2009 and included eight writers, who had been recommended by IPAF judges as writers of exceptional promise. The result was eight new pieces of fiction which were subsequently published in English and Arabic. Since then, workshops have taken place in Abu Dhabi, annually. The first eight nadwas were run under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Ruler's Representative in the Western Region, UAE. Nadwa 2017 was supported by ADMAF (Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation). A further two nadwas were held in Jordan (2016) and Oman (2017), in partnership with the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation and the Muscat Cultural Club respectively. A number of former nadwa participants have gone on to be shortlisted and even win the Prize, including shortlisted authors Mansoura Ez-Eldin (2010), Lina Hawyan Elhassan (2015), Shahla Ujayli and Mohammed Rabie (2016), and winners Ahmed Saadawi (2014) and Mohammed Hasan Alwan (2017).
· About the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi
The Department of Culture and Tourism conserves and promotes the heritage and culture of Abu Dhabi emirate and leverages them in the development of a world-class, sustainable destination of distinction that enriches the lives of visitors and residents alike. The Department manages the emirate’s tourism sector and markets the destination internationally through a wide range of activities aimed at attracting visitors and investment. Its policies, plans and programmes relate to the preservation of heritage and culture, including protecting archaeological and historical sites and to developing museums, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Zayed National Museum and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi supports intellectual and artistic activities and cultural events to nurture a rich cultural environment and honour the emirate’s heritage. A key role played by the Department is to create synergy in the destination’s development through close co-ordination with its wide-ranging stakeholder base.
· The Prize is also supported by the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair