Charif Majdalani Wins 2017 ‘Khayrallah Prize’ for Work Capturing Experiences of Lebanese Immigrants

The 2017 Khayrallah Prize, awarded by North Carolina State University, has gone this year to Lebanese author Charif Majdalani in celebration of his novel Moving the Palacetrans. Edward Gauvin:

Cherif Majdalani. Courtesy: Mishka Moujabber Mourani.

The Khayrallah Prize considers visual art, written work, performances, and work in “electronic medium,” honoring original work that captures “the experiences of Lebanese immigrants, their relationship to Lebanon and their new homes, and their communities and peregrinations.”

The winner receives $2500 and is asked to come to NC State to receive the prize and give a presentation. According to the release, Majdalani will travel to North Carolina early next year.

According to the release, Khayrallah Center Director, Dr. Akram Khater, cited Moving the Palace “because of its rich details and eloquence in exploring an unusual and unexplored part of the Lebanese diasporic experience. Its richness is leavened with humor, with self-deprecating asides and post-modern reminders that this is an imagined history.”

Majdalani’s new novel, L’empereur à pied (The Emperor on Foot), is on the 2017 Femina and the 2017 Renaudot longlists, and was also longlisted for the FNAC in August. L’empereur à pied, like Moving the Palace, is another historical fable that follows Khanjar Jbeili, nicknamed The Emperor on Foot. According to the publisher, the prosperous “emperor” imposes a rule on his descendants, that only one per generation is allowed to marry and have children.

Previous winners of the Khayrallah Prize include Lebanese-Australian playwright David Joseph and Lebanese-American author Joseph Geha.

The Khayrallah Prize also ran a new interview with Majdalani on their website. He says, among other things, “The writer is not someone who fills pages, but who knows how to lighten them.”

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