The first-ever Katara Prize for Arabic Novels — which held its prize ceremony Wednesday and promises to distribute a total of $650,000 to finalists and winners — feted its first ten finalists and two winners: Waciny Laredj and Samih Al Gabbas.
The five finalists in the category of published novels were: Qatar-based Sudanese novelist Amir Tag El Sir for 366, a novel that had been longlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2014; Bahraini novelist Muneera Sawar for Slave; Egyptian novelist Ibrahim Abdelmeguid for Adagio; Iraqi novelist Nasira Al Sadoun for Escaping the Vortex; and Algerian novelist Waciny Laredj for Butterfly Kingdom. Each finalist was set to receive $60,000, while Laredj’s Butterfly Kingdom won the top “drama” prize, which grants it an additional $200K and means it’s to be translated to film or theatre.
There was relatively little fanfare outside Qatar, and this was about as heated as the excitement got:
The five finalists for unpublished novels were: Jalal Barjis from Jordan, Abdul Jaleel Al Tuhami from Morocco, Maisaloon Hadi from Iraq, Zakaria Abu Maria from Morocco, and Samih Al Gabbas from Egypt. Each one of these is promised $30,000.
In the unpublished-novel category, it is Gabbas’s work that took the drama prize.
The prize also promises that works will be translated into English, French, Spanish, Chinese, and Hindi — and marketed in these languages, as well as Arabic. However, the mechanism through which this will happen is not clear.