Although the official announcement isn’t available at the IPAF website (which is surprising and disappointing), it’s being reported elsewhere that Egyptian novelist Baha Taher has received the first International Prize for Arabic Fiction for the novel Sunset Oasis.
At least there’s a bit of info about the author and book available on the official website. (Really, just a bit of info. I’m not even going to repeat my desire for 5 page samples . . . if they can’t even get the announcement of the winner online, odds are pretty solid that there’s not going to be any excerpts.):
Bahaa Taher was born in Giza (Greater Cairo) in 1935, to Upper Egyptian parents from the village of Karnak, Luxor. He holds postgraduate diplomas in History and Mass Media from Cairo University. He has published 14 books (6 novels, 4 short story collections, and 4 non-fiction works), as well as numerous translations from English and French.
Sunset Oasis (Publisher: Al Shorooq, Cairo, 2007)
Baha Taher delivers in this book a high quality fiction work, at both the aesthetic and value levels. And depending on the metaphor of the journey that crystallizes the existential crisis of a defeated man, he deals with many broad human questions.
All of the authors on the shortlist received $10,000 and Taher receives an additional $50,000 as the prize winner.
I think it would be fantastic if something like this led to greater exposure for Arabic literature, and, as can be seen from this quote in Lebanon’s Daily Star, the people involved have big hopes for the award:
“We are certain that this new prize will soon achieve the reputation and success of the Booker Prize itself,” remarked Jonathan Taylor, chair of the IPAF board of trustees and chair the Booker Prize Foundation. “We shall hope to carry the influence of new Arabic literature all over the world, in Arabic as well as in translation.”
At 30, the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli is already gathering her rosebuds. Faces in the Crowd, her poised debut novel, was published by Coffee House Press, along with her Brodsky-infused essay collection, Sidewalks. The essays stand as a theoretical map. . .
Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (narrated by Julio Cortázar) is, not disappointingly, as wild a book as its title suggests. It is a half-novella half-graphic novel story about . . . what, exactly? A European tribunal, Latin. . .
Marie NDiaye has created a tiny, psychological masterpiece with her Self-Portrait in Green. In it she explores how our private fears and insecurities can distort what we believe to be real and can cause us to sabotage our intimate relationships.. . .
Reading a genre book—whether fantasy, science fiction, crime, thriller, etc.—which begins to seem excessively, stereotypically bad, I have to make sure to ask myself: is this parodying the flaws of the genre? Usually, this questioning takes its time coming. In. . .
The Sicilian Mafia has always been a rich subject for sensational crime fiction. The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos worked the mob’s bloody corpses and family feuds to both entertainment and artistic value. Giuseppe di Piazza’s debut novel attempts this,. . .
Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .
It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .
From the late 1940s to the early 1950s, Egypt was going through a period of transition. The country’s people were growing unhappy with the corruption of power in the government, which had been under British rule for decades. The Egyptians’. . .
Miruna is a novella written in the voice of an adult who remembers the summer he (then, seven) and his sister, Miruna (then, six) spent in the Evil Vale with their grandfather (sometimes referred to as “Grandfather,” other times as. . .
Kamal Jann by the Lebanese born author Dominique Eddé is a tale of familial and political intrigue, a murky stew of byzantine alliances, betrayals, and hostilities. It is a well-told story of revenge and, what’s more, a serious novel that. . .