Hoda Barakat, Abdel Khaliq Al Rikabi Win Owais Prize for Prose

This week, the Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Foundation announced the winners of their fifteenth annual edition.

Winners were announced in four categories: “Poetry,” “Short Story, Novel, and Drama,” “Literary Studies and Criticism,” and Humanities and Future Studies.” Each category had more than 200 candidates, with the category for fictions and humanities topping 400.

The “Short Story, Novel and Drama” award went jointly to Lebanese novelist Hoda Barakat and Iraqi novelist Abdel Khaliq Al Rikabi “in recognition of the exquisite narrative techniques they employ in their creative texts and their ability to create narratives that are responsive to the changes of reality and which reflect the deepest thoughts and feelings of the human self.”

Barakat has won numerous prizes, including the 2001 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature, the 2002 Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and the 2008 Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite National. She was also a finalist for the 2015 Man Booker International.

The Lebanese novelist, who has a much-anticipated novella forthcoming soon in Arabicwas lauded by the prize for tackling “themes of bereavement, loss and violence as she searches for meaning amidst the chaos around her. She writes in a highly expressive language about characters and history and her novels are characterized by autobiographical and narrative styles of writing.”

Abdel Khaliq Al Rikabi is an Iraqi novelist, several of whose works have been adapted to film. His seventh novel, The Sad Night of Ali Baba (2013), was longlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

He was praised by the prize for writings that “present an eclectic mix of philosophy, sculpture, music, plastic art and even audio-visual texts. His wide knowledge has enabled him to produce sophisticated narratives that work on various symbolic levels and has also assisted him in weaving intricate plots and in developing new themes.”

The poetry prize went to Shawqi Bazi, and judges remarked: “He skillfully works on various forms of traditions that have been passed down through the generations and merges them with modern aestheticpatterns, which underline their human depth and creative imagination.”

The other winners were Hammadi Sammoud, in the field of criticism, and Lebanese economist Georges Corm, in the humanities.

The awards will be presented in mid-March, 2018.

Hoda Barakat

A brief excerpt of Kingdom of this Earth (2012):

Trans. Ghada Mourad

English-language interviews with Barakat:

With Youssef Rakha, 1999

With Elisabeth Marie, in 2002

With Olivia Snaije, in 2003

With Brian Whitaker, in 2004

With Finnegan’s List, in 2012 

With Suneela Mubayi, in 2012 (specifically about Kingdom)


Barakat on receiving the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature

Abdel Khaliq Al Rikabi

Jona Fras interviews al-Rikabi about A Novel That Had To Be Written, Whatever Happened

A longer biography from publisher Dar Safi

An excerpt from Maqamat Isma‘il al-Dhabih, “The Arab Altar,” trans. William Hutchins