Time: Noon EST / 5 p.m. BST / 6 p.m. CEST
Young Adult literature in Arabic is a small but extraordinarily vibrant space, which has seen steady growth in the last decade, with new literary prizes, new sub-genres, and a growing appetite for new books among young readers. Among these fantastic new worlds, readers will find time-travel fantasies, science fictional futures, magical realism, detective tales, and more.
This panel will be led by leading expert on Arabic YA Susanne Abou Ghaida, who will be joined by three YA writers: by Palestinian-Jordanian novelist Taghreed Najjar, Syrian novelist Maria Dadouch, and Egyptian novelist and translator Ahmed al-Mahdi.
Susanne Abou Ghaida has a PhD in Education from Glasgow University, where she wrote her thesis on “The Arabic Adolescent Novel: Tracing Constructions of Adolescence within Texts and in the Discourses of Authors, Publishers and Readers.” She has previously worked with the ASSABIL reading and library NGO in Lebanon, the UAE Board on Books for Young People, and coordinating the Arab Children’s Literature Regional Programme for the Anna Lindh Foundation.
Taghreed Najjar is a pioneer of modern children’s literature in Jordan, and the author of over 70 books for children and young adults. She has twice been awarded the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature, and has been shortlisted three times. Her children’s and young adult novels have been widely celebrated by readers, adopted as part of the curriculum by schools across the Middle East, and translated into English, Swedish, Turkish, French, and Chinese. She is also the founder of Dar al-Salwa publishing house.
Maria Dadouch is a Syrian author and screenwriter. Early in her writing career, Dadouch wrote for the famous TV comedy series Maraya and helped to establish Fulla magazine, where she wrote hundreds of stories. She studied creative writing at the University Of California, Los Angeles, and graduated in 2015. Dadouch now focuses on her writing for children and young adults, and her YA novel The Planet of Uncertainties won the prestigious Katara Prize for novel 2018, her YA novel I Want Golden Eyes won the Shoman Prize for science fiction novels in 2019, and her YA novel The Heart is Right Behind the Ribs won the Khalifa Educational Award in 2020.
Ahmed Salah al-Mahdi is an Egyptian author, translator, and literary critic who specializes in fantasy, science fiction and children’s literature. He also writes for magazines for children. His two novels that have been translated to English are the YA novel Reem and the science-fiction thriller Malaaz.