Yesterday, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA) winners were announced. The literature winner — chosen from a three-book shortlist — was Ibrahim Abdelmeguid:
The three-book shortlist, announced last month, was:
Bakhur ‘adani (Incense from Aden, 2014) by Yemeni novelist Ali Al-Muqri
Thi’bat al hob wal kutub (The She-wolf of Love and Books, 2015), by Iraqi novelist Muhsin al-Ramli
Ma wara’a al kitaba (Beyond Writing, 2014), by Egyptian novelist Ibrahim Abdelmeguid
All three are much-laureled authors. Abdelmeguid’s winning book is a memoir about writing his novels which, according to a release, “provides a creative view of the political, social and cultural contexts within which the books were written.”
Abdelmeguid has also won Qatar’s “Katara Prize” as well as the 1996 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature, among other prizes.
Two other awards were withheld this year: the “Children’s Literature” and “Young Author” categories, which, according to a release, did not meet the Award’s standards. “Consequently, the Board of Trustees opted to withhold the awards allocated to them.”
The award was withheld in those categories last year as well.
This has happened twice in the last ten years with the literature award (2012 and 2013), and owes in part to the prize’s multilayered structure: The longlist is chosen by an unnamed reading panel. After that, according to the prize website, the titles are sent to “3-4 judges for a thorough review and assessment.” These judges “submit their views to the Scientific Committee for a third round of evaluations to decide on the short list of the best nominations in this category, to be finally introduced to the Board of Trustees for winner’s announcement.”
In this case, the Board of Trustees apparently didn’t like the shortlists. The shortlist in the Children’s category, which also included books for adolescents, was:
Ta’er al Warwar (The Bee-eater, 2015) by Lebanese author Hassan Abdallah
Al Bahth ‘an al-Saqr Ghannam (Looking for Ghannam the Falcon, 2015) by Syrian novelist Lina Al Hassan Hawyan
Eid fi Ibreeq (Fest in a Jug, 2014) by Saudi writer Nouf Alosaimi
The award ceremony is set to take place on May 1, 2016. The winner of the yet-to-be-announced “Cultural Personality of the Year” will receive a prize of 1M dirhams, while other category winners will receive 750K.