2021 Fellowship is postponed

Postponement of 2021 Fellowship

of Khaled Khalifa

It is with much regret that we announce the 2021 Banipal Visiting Writer Fellowship is postponed until next year. The Fellowship was awarded to Syrian author Khaled Khalifa and was due to start today, 11 January 2021. However, due to the severe restrictions imposed on movement and daily life, in order to stop the spread of this virulent Covid-19 pandemic, it cannot go ahead. We look forward to receiving Khaled Khalifa for the 2022 Fellowship when for sure, the Covid-19 virus will have been brought under control.

Meanwhile we will be planning some open Zoom meetings during the time that Khaled Khalifa would have been resident in St Aidan’s College, and will let you know all details in good time.

About the Fellow:

Khaled Khalifa, born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1964, is a novelist, screenwriter and poet living in Damascus. In addition to six novels to date, he has written numerous scripts for TV dramas and films, several of which have won awards. Three of his novels are published in English translation, all translated by Leri Price, with "Death is Hard Work" winning the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation in February 2019 as well as being a finalist in the US National Book Award for Translated Literature. Earlier novels have been shortlisted for both Arabic and translation literary awards with "No Knives in the Kitchens of this City" being awarded the 2017 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature. Khalifa’s latest work "Lam Yasulli ’alayhum Ahad" (No One Prayed Over Them) is a historical novel set in Aleppo. It was longlisted for the 2020 International Prize for Arabic Fiction."

The award of the 2021 Fellowship to Khaled Khalifa was announced on the Fellowship's Facebook page on 21 August 2020. Little did we think then that the Covid-19 pandemic would still be with us now, January 2021 an rampaging through the country.

About the Fellowship:

The annual Banipal Visiting Writer Fellowship was established five years ago in October 2016 by St Aidan’s College of the University of Durham and Banipal magazine of modern Arab literature, with the support of the British Council, for a published author writing in Arabic. The residency of one academic term is based each year at St Aidan’s College, providing a unique space for the Fellow to reflect and to write and also have the opportunity to share their work with British audiences.

The Fellowship is based on the three cornerstones that form the core of Banipal magazine: that Arab literature is an essential part of world culture and human civilisation; that dialogue between different cultures needs to be continually deepened; and that the joy and enlightenment to be gained from reading beautiful poetry and imaginative writing is an integral part of human existence.

The Fellowship encourages dialogue with the Arab world through literature. The cultural exchange and dialogue that it enables, and creates, opens windows for non-Arab audiences in the UK onto the realities of Arab cultures in all their diversity and vibrancy, enabling fruitful discourse to develop. It is hoped that this will lead to further exchange, to mutual respect, to new writings, to deeper understanding, and to contributing to Arab literature taking its rightful place in the canon of world literature.

The 2020 Fellow, Hammour Ziada, suffered during his Fellowship as the first Lockdown and restrictions took hold, closing down flights and all ordinary activities.  He patiently stayed in Durham at St Aidan's College until he was able to finally get a flight in July.

On 23 September 2020 we celebrated five years since the founding of the Banipal Visiting Writer Fellowship, this wonderful partnership between Banipal magazine and St Aidan's College, University of Durham, with the support of the British Council. The three Fellows from 2017, 2018 and 2020 – 2019 Fellowship could not go ahead due to Hammour being inexplicably refused a visa – Ali Bader (Iraq), Najwa Binshatwan (Libya) and Hammour Ziada (Sudan) joined an online celebration with readings and discussion, moderated by Dr Fadia Faqir.

For all enquiries, please email:

Postal address: The Principal, St Aidan's College, University of Durham, Windmill Hill, Durham DH1 3LJ, UK

Fellowship Facebook page:


Published Date - 11/01/2021