The sixth ever Mohammed Saeed Nawed Short Story Award — for countries in the horn of Africa — was announced yesterday:

Mohammed Saeed Nawed

The winner of the 2020 prize, named for the renowned Eritrean writer, went to Sudanese short-story writer Mohammed Hassan Al-Nahat for “باحة بروكا” (“Broca’s Area”).

The story was praised by Sudanese translator and critic Nassir Al-Sayeid Al-Nour, chair of the judging committee, for how it, “Precisely depicts and illustrates, diachronically, the developing events within a powerful visionary narrative using a poetic language inspired by human suffering and the contradictions of daily life.” According to organizers, the winning short story will be published and widely circulated at media platforms.

The prize also comes with a $500 US monetary award.

Sixty-four short stories were submitted to the competition, from several different African nations, the most ever submitted to the prize. The award, which was chiefly designated to those who write in Arabic, was established six years ago by the Aghordat Public Library, which organizes and sponsors the prize. It is the first Eritrea-based award for the Arabic short story set up to encourage creative writers of the region.

According to the awards secretary, participating writers came from Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, and Ethiopia.

The Mohammed Saeed Award is named for the Eritrean novelist, historian, and activist who has become, according to Nassir Al-Sayeid Al-Nour “an iconic representation of the literary soul of the Eritrean revolution” during that country’s struggle for liberation in the last century.

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