Awards This Week for Cartoonist Ali Farzat, Poet Venus Khoury-Ghata

From Farzat's Facebook page.

Two awards this week for authors who hail from the Levant: On Wednesday, Lebanese poet Venus Khoury-Ghata won the prestigious 2011 Goncourt Prize for poetry and on Thursday, the incisive Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat was awarded the 2011 Le Monde Prize for Press Freedom.

The Le Monde award was given both for Farzat’s courage in the face of Bashar Assad’s regime and his creativity. The Goncourt was awarded for the 72-year-old Khoury-Ghata’s life’s work.

Farzat was unable to attend the Thursday awards ceremony in Paris. According to Reporters Without Borders, he sent a statement that was read on his behalf by the French cartoonist Plantu:

I would have liked to have been with you this evening to take part in this beautiful event.

I dedicate this award to the martyrs, to those who have been injured and to those who struggle for freedom. May thanks be given to all those who have turned the Arab Spring into a victory over darkness and repression.

Khoury-Ghata, who was also nominated for next year’s Neustadt Prize, has several collections available in English translation via the poet Marilyn Hacker.

Some of Khoury-Ghata’s work online:

“The cloud hanging over this valley has been there forever”

She says

Work by Ali Farzat:

The Farzat Facebook group

Collection: A Pen of Damascus Steel

Also, on this topic:

Can writers afford to worry about prize sponsors?

And tomorrow:

The Naguib Mahfouz medal for literature will be awarded at 5 p.m. in Zamalek. As we noted earlier, it will be a surprise. What would be a good surprise?