International Prize for Arabic Fiction hosts inaugural nadwa at Atana Hotel in Musandam, Oman
Today, a group of seven emerging Arab authors gathered in Musandam, Oman to take part in the Nadwa, organised by the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. The week-long workshop brings together writers from Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Oman. The inaugural workshop is being sponsored by the Cultural Club, Muscat, and will take place at the beautiful Atana Musandam resort, inspired by a typical Omani village.
The workshop will be led by two leading names in Arabic literature, Mohammed Hasan Alwan (Saudi Arabia) – who won this year’s International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2017 with A Small Death – and Jokha al-Harthi (Oman), winner of the 2016 Sultan Qaboos Award for Culture, Art and Literature.
The seven participating writers range in age from 28 to 42 years old. They have been identified by the organisers as emerging talent, following an application process.
The workshop involves daily group discussions, as well as the opportunity for one-on-one guidance with the mentors.
The International Prize for Arabic Fiction launched the workshops in 2009 in Abu Dhabi, where a nadwa is hosted each year and has nurtured a number of writers who have gone on to be shortlisted and even win the annual prize. Previous participants have included Ahmed Saadawi, Mansoura Ez Eldin, Mohammed Hasan Alwan, Mohammed Rabie and Shahla Ujayli. In 2016, the International Prize for Arabic Fiction organised the first Nadwa hosted in Petra, Jordan, in association with the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.
Mohammed Hasan Alwan comments: “Something in the unfathomable beauty of Oman makes me yearn for a different, evocative kind of writing. I am very happy to be part of the first nadwa in this wonderful country, and hope that Oman will reveal its creative secrets to us.”
Fleur Montanaro, International Prize for Arabic Fiction Administrator and Nadwa coordinator, comments: “The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is proud to be working with the Omani Cultural Club to hold the Nadwa in Oman for the first time, after the Cultural Club hosted the shortlist announcement of the prize in Muscat, in 2016. The workshop is an opportunity for young, talented writers from Oman and abroad to share experiences and refine their skills, under the guidance of Mohammed Hasan Alwan, the 2017 International Prize for Arabic Fiction winner, and Jokha al-Harthi, winner of the 2016 Sultan Qaboos Prize.”
The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is the leading international prize for Arabic literature. Sponsored by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) and run in association with the Booker Prize Foundation in the UK, the Prize aims to celebrate the very best of contemporary Arabic fiction and encourage wider international readership of Arabic literature through translation.
Jokha al-Harthi (Oman) is a writer, born in 1978. She teaches Arabic Literature in Sultan Qaboos University, Oman. She has a doctorate in Literature from Edinburgh University, Scotland and has published three novels, two collections of short stories, a volume of prose and poetry and two children's stories, as well as academic books and articles. Her work has been published in translation, in English for Banipal Magazine and in German for Lisan Magazine, and in Korean, Serbian and Italian for specialist magazines. Her novel Celestial Bodies (2010) will soon be published in English in Scotland, and her latest novel Naranja (2016) won the 2016 Sultan Qaboos Award for Culture, Art and Literature.
Mohammed Hasan Alwan (Saudi Arabia) is a novelist, born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 1979. He graduated with a doctorate in International Marketing from the University of Carleton, Canada. Alwan has published five novels to date: The Ceiling of Sufficiency (2002), Sophia (2004), The Collar of Purity (2007), The Beaver (2011), and A Small Death (2016), as well as a non-fiction work, Migration: Theories and Key Factors (2014). His work has appeared in translation in Banipal magazine (Blonde Grass and Statistics, translated by Ali Azeriah), in The Guardian (Oil Field, translated by Peter Clark), and in Words Without Borders (Mukhtar translated by William M. Hutchins). In 2009-10, Alwan was chosen as one of the 39 best Arab authors under the age of 40 by the Beirut39 project and his work was published in the Beirut39 anthology. He was also a participant in the first IPAF Nadwa in 2009 and a mentor on the Nadwa in 2016. In 2013, The Beaver was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and in 2015, its French edition (translated by Stéphanie Dujols) won the Prix de la Littérature Arabe awarded in Paris for the best Arabic novel translated into French for that year. In 2017, his novel A Small Death won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.
Mohammed Abdel Qahar (Egypt) is a writer and engineer born in Cairo, Egypt in 1988. He writes articles for a number of websites and has published two novels: The Book of the Palace: the Conqueror and the Dervish (2013) and Gharib (2016).
Mohsen Akhrif (Morocco) is a poet and writer born in Al Araish, Morocco, in 1979. He has a PhD in Literature. He is the author of four poetry collections: Hymns of Departure (2001), Two Losing Horses (2009, winner of the Moroccan Channel Two Prize) and Taming Unbridled Dreams (2012). He has also published a novel, Partner in Love (2013, winner of the Moroccan Writers' Union Prize for the best novel by a young writer) and a short story collection, A Dream While Napping (2017, winner of the third prize of the Sharjah Prize for Arab Creativity in that year).
Badriya Al-Badri (Oman) is a poet and novelist born in Muscat, Oman in 1975. She has two published novels: Behind Loss (2015) and The Last Crossing (2017). She has won several prizes in Oman and other Gulf countries for her poetry in standard Arabic and dialect, and for her novels, including first prize from the Omani Literary Forum for Behind Loss in 2013. In 2014, she won second prize in the Gulf-wide Rashid bin Hamid competition, for free verse in standard Arabic. Badriya Al-Badri writes for the Murshid magazine and works as an IT teacher.
Nabil Gueddiche (Tunisian) is a novelist and journalist born in Tunis, in 1977. He has an MA in Communications and is the author of a short story collection Messing with Nietzsche (2014) and two novels: The Sunflower (2015) and Charlie (2016). He writes articles for Arabic newspapers and publications such as Al-Akhbar al-Lubnaniya, Al-Quds al-Arabi, Kikah, Al-Muthaqa and Al-Safir. He has received numerous honours in Tunisia for his writing, including the prestigious Golden Komar Prize for his novel Messing with Nietzsche, in the first time novelists category. His second novel Charlie was shortlisted for the best Tunisian novel of the year at the Tunis Book Fair, 2016.
Mohamed Al-Jazmi (Oman) is a writer and novelist born in Khasab, Oman, in 1979. He obtained a Diploma as a science laboratory technician and worked in laboratories for 17 years until the end of 2016. Most of his books are science fiction, fantasy and horror stories, but outside these genres his novel The Blood Returns to Where It Flows From (2012) deals with the Palestinian issue. He writes articles for various newspapers and has previously been editor-in-chief of online newspapers. Recently, he opened the first cultural library - "Home of the Arts" - in Khasab province, in the governorate of Musandam. The library organises cultural competitions and prizes.
Muna Al-Maouli (Oman) is a writer born in Muscat, Oman in 1981. She obtained a Diploma in Computer Programming from the Omani Institute for Vocational Training and works as an administrator in the Omani Journalists Association. She is currently in her third year studying Media at the Bayan Media College. Her novel Green of the Dung was published in 2016 and a book of prose texts entitled A Scattering of Sorrow in 2017.
Tawfiq Al-Shihi (Oman) is a writer and water engineer born in Khasab, Oman, in 1979. He obtained a BA in Engineering from Sultan Qaboos University in 2003 and is Director of Works in the provinces of Khasab and Bakha for the Omani Water and Electricity Commission. His first non-fiction book, If They Had Known (2011) focused mainly on the history of science from Newton to Witten. This was followed by a short horror story collection entitled He Sells Death (2013), then another non-fiction work about the origins of mankind, Legends of the Forefathers (2016), and his first novel Forgetting and Forgotten in 2017.