Friday, December 10, 2010

Moroccan Writers Make Shortlist

In August last year, The View from Fez reported that the Egyptian Writers' Union awarded the 2009 Naguib Mahfouz prize to the Moroccan writer and intellectual Bensalem Himmich for his contribution to literature. Now, we can report thathe is one of the six authors nominated for the 2011 International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

Morocco's Bensalem Himmich imagines an innocent man's experience of extraordinary rendition in "My Tormentor," and Sudan's Amir Taj al-Sir's "The Hunter of the Chrysalises" tells of a former intelligence agent who comes under police scrutiny.

Also on the list is Moroccan poet Mohammed Achaari, nominated for "The Arch and the Butterfly," in which a father receives a letter from al Qaeda informing him that his son, who he believed was studying in Paris, had died fighting Western forces in Afghanistan.

Saudi novelist Raja Alem, shortlisted for "The Dove's Necklace," explores the "sordid underbelly" of life in the holy city of Mecca, said the organisers of the annual award, funded by the Emirates Foundation for Philanthropy.

It is also supported by the Booker Prize Foundation, the charity behind the Man Booker Prize for English language fiction, and by the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

Two Egyptian authors write about Arabs who go to live abroad -- Khalid al-Bari's "An Oriental Dance" follows a young Egyptian man who marries an older British woman and moves with her to England, while U.S.-based Miral al-Tahawy's "Brooklyn Heights" describes the experiences of Arab immigrants in New York.

The shortlisted writers each receive $10,000 (6,300 pounds) and the winner, announced in Abu Dhabi on March 14, 2011, wins another $50,000 and a likely boost in sales in Arab countries and internationally.

The winning book is also translated into English.

The previous three winners of the award are "Sunset Oasis" by Bahaa Taher (Egypt), "Azazel" by Youssef Ziedan (Egypt) and "Spewing Sparks as Big as Castles" by Abdo Khal (Saudi Arabia).

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