The literary festival season continues with one of the region’s biggest competitions, the annual Sheikh Zayed Book Award. Running for the seventh year, the award celebrates outstanding Arab writers, intellectuals, publishers and emerging talents who are deemed the best contributors to Arab cultural, literary circles and social life.
The term is relative since the board of trustees had to pluck the best from more than 1,200 submissions. The entries have been whittled down to 45, of which eight books were placed under the Literary and Art Criticism category and a further nine were shortlisted under the Contribution to the Development of Nations category. The Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s secretary general, Dr Ali Bin Tamim, said the shortlist was created after a recent high-level pow-wow. “We selected the eligible contenders during the scientific committee assembly, which took place between February 25 and 27,” he says. “A total of six titles were shortlisted under both categories.”
This is no Arab Idol. The award’s board of trustees and scientific committee ensure each entry is rigorously examined by appointing several prominent international and regional literary figures. As well as having a significant regional effect, the winning works must also be viewed as world-class literary products.
The shortlisted titles under the Contribution to the Development of Nations category include Dr Abdul Aziz Al Dakheel’s Economic Development in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Contemporary Arab Thought by the Lebanese scholar Elizabeth Kassab and Science and Sovereignty by Antoine Zahlan, a researcher also from Lebanon. The Literary and Art Criticism category includes The Long Poem in Arabic Modern Poetry by Tunisia’s Dr Ahmad Abu Baker Al Jawwa, Criticism in Modernism and post Modernism by the Iraqi/British scholar Dr Ibrahim Al-Haidari and Historic Visualization by Iraq’s Dr Abdullah Ibrahim. Other shortlisted authors will be announced in the coming weeks.
There is a Dh7 million total prize pool, courtesy of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority. However, the award’s career-changing significance in the region is arguably what most authors seek. The full list of winners is set to be announced on April 2, with the award presentation to be held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre on April 28 as part of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.
• The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair runs from April 24 to 29
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