As it closed last Wednesday, the Cairo International Book Fair handed out its award. Unfortunately for this year’s winners, this year’s prize has become not for its winning books, but for its secrecy and strange decisions:

Cairo-International-Book-Fair-2The first strange decision was the doubling of the prize money by the government of Kuwait, this year’s guest of honor at the Cairo International Book Fair. But instead of the extra money going to each category’s winner, each category instead got two winners.

There perhaps would have been a way to smooth over this decision, had the judges explained it. However, unlike in past years, the 2014 judges’ identities were kept secret.

Further, Medhat El-Adl’s poetry collection, Platform No 5, was named one of the two best books of 2013 in the colloquial poetry category. However, the book was not set to be published until February — after the ceremony — which makes it a strange choice for the best book of the previous year.

Also, as Ahram Online reported, a special prize was granted this year for the first time to the Kuwaiti book series Alam Al-Marifah and the Kuwaiti writer Talib Al-Rifai.

The co-winners:

Novel:

Sobhy Moussa, The Myths of the Tuesday Guy

Ashraf El-Ashmawy,The Bar Man

Short story collection:  

Mekkawi Said, The Invisibles

Mansoura Ezzeddine, Towards Madness

Colloquial poetry:

Medhat El-Adl, Platform No 5

Fatma El-Morsi, Oriental Robaiyat

Children’s:

Ahmed Khaled Tawfiq, The Book of Tales

Fatma Sharafeddine, Abjad Hawaz.

Poetry:

Salah El-Laqani, Mixing the Seas

Ibrahim Abdel-Fattah, Nothing Looks Like Your Old Face

Best publisher:

Kalimat Publishing House (http://kalimat.ae/)