The award was created in spring 2013 by Jean-Luc Lagardère Foundation and the Arab World Institute. Titles eligible for the award include those written by Arabs originally in French and those translated into French, like Douaihy’s. Novels also must address the theme of Arab youth in some way.
Douaihy told L’Orient-Le Jour that he was pleased with winning the prize, and that it was “proof that writing is not a world of complaints, but can be a place of happiness.”
St. George Was Looking Away / Chased Away / The Vagrant was also awarded the Hanna Wakim prize of the year’s best Lebanese novel and was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2012.
From the book summary from Raya Agency:
Born to a modest Muslim family of Tripoli, Lebanon, in the early sixties, Nizam Al Aalmi, couldn’t suspect that the unconditional love that an old and rich Christian couple had for him would change the course of his life. When the civil war broke in Beirut in 1975, the handsome 20 year old man found himself in an impossible situation. An ordinary man, enjoying his youth and the wonders of a busy city, he did not have a cause, nor did he wish to fight. Born a Muslim, brought up a Christian, and finally baptized at the age of 17, he didn’t naturally belong to any side. Trapped in the growing madness of the civil war, this poetic character is destined to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He ends up losing his life at the hands of a Muslim militia, convinced that he was a Christian.
This novel is now in French and Italian, although as far as I know, an English translation is not in the works. Paula Haydar has translated Douaihy’s June Rain, but it’s unclear when that novel will be released.
The other seven titles shortlisted for the ‘Prix de la Jeune Litterature Arabe’ were:
Amir, by Nabil Naoum, trans. Luc Barbulesco (Actes Sud / Sindbad)
Chibani, by Ahmed Dich (Editions Anne Carrière)
The Last Was a Young Man, by Salim Bachi (Flammarion)
Biculturals: Building Between Two Cultures, by Hayat El Yamani (Editions Anne Carrière)
The Hipster, (الغلامة) by Alia Mamdouh, trans. Stephanie Dujols (Actes Sud)