Sheikh Zayed Book Award Announces ‘Literature’ Longlist

Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA) organizers yesterday announced two more longlists. The biggest pool of nominees—148 books—came in the “literature” category. Six of these books were chosen for the list.

The SZBA winners will be announced next month. A total of 7 million dirhams will split between the nine categories. Among the nine is a “young author” group that was announced last month. Others include the “fine arts,” “children’s literature,” and “translation.”

The “literature” category has been difficult for some observers to grasp: How can “poetry, stories, novels, plays, literary theories, creative writing, and works of criticism” all compete against one another? The literature category also experienced a setback in 2010 when the award was withdrawn from Dr Hafnaoui Baali following accusations of plagiarism.

This year’s “literature” titles included six books:

The Bride’s Tea by Iraqi author Maysaloon Hadi/Mayselun Hadi, published by Egypt’s Dar el-Shorouk.

According to translator and critic Shakir Mustafa, “One of the most promising talents to appear on the Iraqi literary scene in the past two decades, Mayselun Hadi has received well-deserved popular and critical acclaim.” Mustafa translated her “Her Realm of the Real,” “Calendars,” and “Outage” for his collection Contemporary Iraqi Fiction. (You can read them online through Google Books.)


Author’s Goodreads page

Yahya by Jordanian writer Samiha Ali Khrais, published by Dar Thaqafa

Yahya is, according to the Arab Culture Fund, “a historical novel based on the life of Yahya al Karaki, an Arab living under 17th century Ottoman rule who travelled to Egypt, Syria and Jordan, challeneged the authorities and faced dire consequences.”

Author’s official website

A Period of Oppression by Jordanian author Hisham Saleh Abdallah, published by Dar Aman

Under the Moonlight by Moroccan author Mohammed Gharnate, published by Dar Bisan

Bilan by Syrian author Mousa Abbas, published by Dar Bisan

Also, rounding out the longlist, is a study by Moroccan Abderrahim Ouhabi, titled Arabic Reading. It’s published by Modern Book World publishing.

The SZBA, first granted in 2007, has generally been overshadowed by the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, popularly known as the “Arabic Booker.” There are no books that are on both lists this year.

Last year’s literature SZBA went to a critical work by Dr. Mohammad Miftah.