Arabic Book Award Judges Take Their Prize and Go Home
The Sheikh Zayed Book awards prize for literature, worth £130,000, has been withheld this year, due to a lack of suitable candidates. The awards, which are handed out every year in Abu Dhabi, honor Arab writers from a multitude of countries in different categories. However, the prize for literature was unclaimed this year, because the submitted books “did not meet the award’s stringent norms” required by the advisory council.
A shortlist of six books, five of them novels, was compiled, but all six books were roundly rejected for the top prize by the contest’s judges. The novels The Tea of the Bride, Yahya, A Period of Oppression, and Under the Moonlight were all in the running, as well as a study of Arabic reading, but none of them were considered worthy of the cash prize.
Some critics in the world of Arabic literature have criticized the move, including M. Lynx Qualey of ArabLit.
This non-awarding of the literature prize is not likely to do much for the profile of an award that already languished in the shadow of the IPAF. Despite the SZBA's AED750,000 in prize money, the award has not captured public attention like the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.
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