The longlist for the Sheikh Zayed Award’s “young author” category was announced today, a grab-bag category that includes literature and scientific theses by authors under 40 in fields of “science, literature, culture, fine arts and humanities.”
The SZBA literature prize has had a number of missteps in its six-year history, including a complicated story of plagiarism (2010) and, in 2012, a failure to award the prize, as none on the shortlist were found worthy. This year’s lit prize will hopefully be a bit different, as it’s now open to “no more than creative works.”
Not so for the “young author” award, which has longlisted nine titles — among them one novel (Kuwaiti author Buthaina al-‘Issa’s Aisha Descends to the Underworld) and one short-story collection (Emirati writer Mariam al-Saadi’s The Seagulls of Che Guevara).
The finalists were filtered out of a total of 298 nominations submitted this year for this category, although there’s no note of how many were novels, short-story collections, poetry, scientific studies, biographies, literary criticism, philosophical tracts, etc.
Several different committees work on the Sheikh Zayed award, which could create some of the confusion. The reading committee’s longlist is forwarded to a scientific committee, which makes a shortlist, and then another panel makes the final decision.
The seven other titles show a predilection for literary criticism, and include Egyptian Khaled Abu Alleil’s Hilal Biography, Egyptian AbdulHakim Sayye’s A Study of Popular Beliefs in Egypt, Syrian Araa’ al-Jarmani’s Meta Narrative in the Arabic Novel, Moroccan Adel Hadjami’s Deleuze Philosophy on Essentialism and Difference, Algerian Bahaa’ Bin Nuwwar’s Manifestations of Death in the Poetry of al-Mutanabbi, Moroccan Kamal al-Saqi’s Feminization in Arabic from a Comparative Linguistic Perspective, and Hiba Mohamad’s Future School in the Arab Motherland.
The winners are scheduled for announcement in March 2013. The award comprises of nine categories, and each winner takes a gold medal bearing the SZBA logo, a certificate of merit, and 750,000 dirhams — with the exception of the Cultural Personality of the Year winner, who receives one million dirhams.