Award-winning Algerian novelist Waciny Laredj led the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF)’s seventh annual nadwa, which brought together just five participants this November:
The nadwa, which took place from Nov. 18-24 at the UAE’s Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, hosted writers from Morocco, Tunisia, Kuwait, the UAE and Bahrain. All five are aged under 45 and were identified by former IPAF as “ones to watch.”
This year’s participants:
Abdessamia Bensaber (Morocco) was born in Marrakesh in 1986. He currently lives and works as a teacher in Dakhla. He has written three short story collections and a novel. Prizes and competitions he has won include: the international Naji Naaman Prize for Creativity for his short story Dancing with the Dead (2011); the Stories On the Air competition, awarded by the BBC and the Kuwaiti Al-Arabi magazine, for two consecutive years – 2011 and 2012; best screenplay at the International Film Festival in Dakhla in 2013, for his screenplay A Day Outside the Body and the Cultural Dialogue Prize, in the short story category, in Rabat (2013). In 2013, he received a commendation from the Moroccan Writers’ Union for his novel, A Little Behind the Walls (2013).
Kheria Boubtane (Tunisia) was born in 1974. She teaches Arabic language and literature at the Higher Institute of Jarjis, in south-eastern Tunisia, where she lives. She is also an associate researcher in cultural anthropology at the Arts College of Manouba, Tunis. She began her literary career writing poetry at school and university. Then in 2011, after a nine-year break in writing, she wrote her first novel Living Dead, which was published in 2013. Since then she has written two further novels, The Infiltrator and The Spider’s Room and three poetry collections.
Hadeel Al-Hasawi (Kuwait) was born in 1980. She graduated with a BA in Computer Science from Kuwait University and an MBA from Maastricht University (2012). From 2001-2003, she worked as coordinator for the AFAQ forum at Kuwait University and is a partner in Al-Farasha for Publishing and Distribution. She has participated in numerous cultural events in Kuwait and writes for a number of Arab newspapers. The Mirror was her first novel (2005), soon to be published in English by Al-Farasha, followed by Tajreed in 2014. In 2015, her short stories were included in a book connected to the Give Me Nine Words project, where writers contribute literary work inspired by nine words chosen for them.
Reem al-Kamali (UAE) is a writer from Dubai, born in 1979. She studied history at the Lebanese University of Beirut and now works as a journalist for Emirati newspaper Al-Bayan and as a travel writer. Her first novel, The Straits of Hormuz, was published in 2013. She is passionate about a wider use of Arabic in the UAE and she is researching ancient Emirati history, an area not yet represented in literature.
Muneera Swar (Bahrain) was born in 1975. She studied English Literature at the University of Bahrain. After graduation, she worked in graphic design and currently holds a position in the Public Relations and Media department of the Ministry of Education. In 2006, her Arabic translation of Supernanny by Jo Frost was highly successful and has been reprinted several times. Her first novel, Nisa’a al Mutaa (Arab Scientific Publishers), was released by in 2008 and was followed in 2012 by Hussein Al-Messenger (Arabic Institute for Research and Publishing). Her third novel, Jariya, was written during a writers’ workshop led by Najwa Barakat and organised by Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities in 2013. The novel was published in 2014 by Dar al-Adab, in partnership with the Authority. Jariya was one of five winners of the 2015 Katara Prize for the Novel (in the published novels category).