Last month, the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) announced the 23 projects that were set to receive grants from the first cycle of its Creative and Critical Writings program:
The Creative and Critical Writings category is a new AFAC grants program that builds on the organization’s previous support for literature. AFAC has run two previous programs for creative writing: Literature grants (which ran from 2007-2013) and the AFAC Novel Writing Program (2014-2016). This expands into support for scholarly works.
The 2018 grant judges were: Libyan novelist Najwa Binshatwan, Lebanese scholar and writer Zeina G. Halabi, and the Tunisian International Prize for Arabic Fiction-winning novelist and scholar Chokri Al-Mabkhout.
According to organizers:
AFAC received 117 applications of which 90% were submitted by individuals (39% females and 51% males*) and 10% came from institutions. The submitted projects were distributed among Egypt (39%), Syria (15%), Lebanon (14%), Palestine (9%), Morocco (8%), Tunisia (3%),Yemen (3%), Jordan (3%), Sudan (3%), Iraq (2%) and France (1%). The distribution of submitted projects by type came as follows: short stories (22%), critical books (20%), children’s books (15%), poetry (11%), theatrical texts (10%), online platforms (6%), graphic novels (4%), workshops (1%) and others (7%).
The jury met at the beginning of August to select the 23 projects to receive a total of $219,000 in grants. The largest numbers of awardees are from Egypt (8) and Syria (6), with others from Lebanon (4), and Morocco, Palestine, Sudan, Yemen, and Tunisia/France.
From the jury statement:
Despite the variety of creative literary genres, the Jury Committee members have noticed commonalities among the projects they chose to support. In poetry for example, the supported projects dwelled in the prose poem and its aesthetics, focusing on the day-to-day life, intimacy and the formulation of distinctive poetic traits.
The selected short stories, on the other hand, attempted various methods in approaching the details of daily life and the concerns of the Arab citizen through irony, fantasy and dreams. We feel this as well in the theater plays which are daring in dealing with suppressed topics, tackled with an advanced aesthetic vision and an intellectual awareness that turns such topics into issues of common concern.
Finally, the critical writing projects were an indication of the growing interest in issues of the individual and their various manifestations. Some dealt with the emergence of the individual self in Arabic music, while others addressed the issue of the body, burdened with the repressive representations of today’s consumerist society. Other critical works touch upon the issues of censorship, writing, ethics and law.
The Winning Projects:
Afraid to Tell What I Feel (working title) by Fayrouz Karawya
Al Hamesheyoun – The Undercommons by Dina El Deeb
Chez the Maidenly Madam by Zain Alabedein Saleh
Digital History of British Colonial Cairo: Media and the Potentialities of History by Shehab Ismail
Documenting Lebanon by Mohamed Soueid
Electronic Cultural Platform RE by RE
Essays in Cinema Criticism by Archipels Images
Failing Exercise in Living by Hiba Mehrez
Heraz Mekamkm by Ahmed Naji
I Kick the House and Go Out by Nesrine Khoury
Jelly Bird by Charles Elakl
Lebanese Pop Sex by Roger Outa
Marsah – Theater Texts by Masrah Ensemble
Media by Hanadi Zarka
Saleh Abdel-Hay: Jockey of Arab Music by Moheb Mohamed Ali
Shams and the Monsters by Feras Hatem
Sleep Thieves by Amgad El Sabban
The Author Has Another Memory by Samer Asham
The Dramatheque – Radical experience of HAKAWATI Theatre/ Lebanon by Hanane Hajj Ali
The Grand Nights by Ahmed Shalaby
The Holocaust of New Arts – Shock and Deterritorialization in Arab Contemporary Art by Labo Beckett pour les arts contemporains de la scène
Where Is My Stuff by Ayman Abdolsalam
Writing and Return by Dalia Taha
*Math isn’t mine.