World literary awards are plentiful, although credible, transparent, and interesting ones less so. The Mohamed Choukri Foundation, named for the celebrated Moroccan author, recently announced the establishment of one in Choukri’s name:
The award is unusual in that Egyptian novelist Sonallah Ibrahim — who’s more famous for rejecting literary awards than receiving them — is on the awards steering committee. The prize will apparently be awarded annually to authors both from Morocco and from “other countries from all over the world.”
The award is set to be granted each August at the Twiza Festival, held in Tangier. According to president of the Mohamed Choukri Foundation Abdellatif Benyahya, the prize jury will made be up of renowned “Moroccan and foreign writers.”
It was Choukri’s For Bread Alone that sent shockwaves through the literary scene and made its author a famous writer. He wrote it in Arabic in 1972 and worked with Paul Bowles, in various bridge languages, to create an English version in 1973. It was translated into French in 1981 by Moroccan writer Taher Ben Jelloun, but wasn’t published in Arabic until 1982.
By now, the book has made its way into nearly 40 languages, although disputes over the author’s will tied up further translations after his death. Hopefully this literary prize signals that the Mohamed Choukri Foundation has come to an agreement with the writer’s family.
An excerpt from For Bread Alone, trans. Bowles and Choukri.