Last week, organizers announced that the 2018 Banipal Visiting Writer Fellowship — supported by Banipal magazine and the University of Durham — has gone to Libyan academic, novelist, and playwright Najwa Bin Shatwan:
Bin Shatwan first achieved regional and international acclaim in 2009, when she was named one of the “Beirut39,” a list of 39 of the best Arab authors under 40, writing in any world language.
Her status was raised even further with her third novel, Slave Pens, shortlisted for the 2017 International Prize for Arabic Fiction.
Bin Shatwan has thus far published three collections of short stories and three novels, including her 2005 novel The Horses’ Hair, which won the inaugural Sudanese al-Begrawiya Festival prize, when Sudan was Capital of Arab Culture. Although none of her novels have yet been translated, her work will be featured in Banthology: Stories from Unwanted Nations, forthcoming from Comma Press, and an excerpt of Slave Pens, trans. Sawad Hussain, can be read on ArabLit.
This new three-month writing fellowship, based at St. Aidan’s College, was announced in October 2016, and its inaugural winner was Iraqi novelist Ali Bader. This year, organizers report, there were “hundreds of writers” who applied “from all over the Arab world.”
According to organizers, “The Fellowship is based on the three cornerstones that have formed the core of Banipal magazine: that Arab literature is an essential part of world culture and human civilisation; that dialogue between different cultures needs to be continually deepened; and that the joy and enlightenment to be gained from reading beautiful poetry and imaginative writing is an integral part of human existence.”
Bin Shatwan is scheduled to arrive in Durham to begin her residency in January 2018. During her three-month residency, she’s meant to engage in monthly literary activities with writers and readers in Durham, the northeast of England, and in London — in addition to pursuing her work-in-progress.