Syrian writer Shahla Ujayli (@ShahlaUjayli) won the second annual Al Multaqa Prize for the Arabic Short Story with her collection Bed of the King’s Daughter:
The $20,000 prize is a joint effort of the American University of Kuwait and the “Cultural Circle,” a local literary discussion group headed up by Kuwaiti writer Taleb Alrefai. Its inaugural prize went, last December, to Mazen Maarouf’s Jokes for the Gunmen, forthcoming in English translation by Jonathan Wright.
Ujayli, who has previously been shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), is both an author and critic. Her debut short story collection, The Mashrabiyya, was published in 2005. Her first novel, The Cat’s Eye (2006), won the Jordan State Award for Literature in 2009, after which she published Persian Carpet (2013) and A Sky So Close, which was shortlisted for the 2016 IPAF.
The other collections shortlisted for this year’s Almultaqa were:
Palestinian Mahmoud Rimawi for “ضيف على العالم” (Guest of the World)
Syrian author Tamim Henidi for “ليثيوم” (Lithium)
Iraqi writer Luay Hamza Abbas for “قرب شجرة عالية ” (Near the Tall Tree)
Omani writer Mahmoud al-Rahbi for “لم يكن ضحكاً فحسب” (Not Just for a Laugh)
The second-ever longlist, announced October 1, features books published between January 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017. There were 239 submissions from twenty countries, with the lion’s share coming from Egypt (90).
In addition to the $20,000 prize, there is also a fund to support translation of the winning collection into English, and $5,000 for each of the shortlisted authors.
Watch her discuss A Sky So Close in a video produced for IPAF.