Wednesday, March 03, 2010
SPEWING SPARKS AS BIG AS CASTLES
BY ABDO KHAL
WINS INTERNATIONAL PRIZE FOR ARABIC FICTION 2010
Supported by the Booker Prize Foundation Funded by the Emirates Foundation
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday 2 March 2010 – The winner of the 2010 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) is SPEWING SPARKS AS BIG AS CASTLES by ABDO KHAL, pic right, published by Al-Jamal Publications, Baghdad/Beirut, 2009. The winner of the prestigious literary prize was announced tonight at a gala awards ceremony in Abu Dhabi before an audience of international publishers, critics, writers and journalists.
A painfully satirical novel, depicts the destructive impact that power and limitless wealth has on life and the environment. It captures the seductive powers of the palace and tells the agonising story of those who have become enslaved by it, drawn by its promise of glamour.
Spewing Sparks as Big as Castles exposes the inner world of the palace and of those who have chosen to become its puppets, from whom it has stolen everything.
The winner announcement was made by the Chair of Judges, the renowned Kuwaiti writer Taleb Alrefai. With him were the three other members of the judging panel: Raja’ Ben Salamah, Tunisian lecturer from the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Humanities at Manouba University, Tunisia; Frédéric LaGrange, French academic, translator and Head of the Arabic and Hebraic Department at the Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV) and Saif al-Rahbi, Omani writer and poet.
The Chair of Judges, Taleb Alrefai, commented: “The winning novel is a brilliant exploration of the relationship between the individual and the state. Through the eyes of its two dimensional protagonist, the book gives the reader a taste of the horrifying reality of the excessive world of the palace.
“Although only one novel can win the Prize, many exciting and inspiring novels were submitted. The judging panel worked hard in order to consider all this year’s submitted novels, maintaining the established tradition of independence and transparency.”
The Prize, which is awarded annually, is run with the support of the UK’s Booker Prize Foundation and is funded by the Emirates Foundation, one of the leading philanthropic organisations in the UAE. Its aim is to recognise and reward excellence in contemporary Arabic creative writing and to encourage wider readership internationally through translation. In addition to the annual prize, IPAF supports literary initiatives and in 2009 launched its inaugural nadwa (writers’ workshop) for a group of aspiring Arabic writers.
The shortlisted finalists for the prize each receive $10,000, with the winner receiving an additional $50,000. They can look forward to reaching wider audiences and potentially securing publishing deals – both within the Arab World and internationally. The previous two winners for the prize – Bahaa Taher (Sunset Oasis) and Youssef Ziedan (Azazel) – have not only secured English publications of their novels, through Sceptre (Hodder & Stoughton) and Atlantic Books respectively, but also a number other international translations as a result of the prize.
Jonathan Taylor CBE, Chairman of the IPAF Board of Trustees, and of the Booker Prize Foundation, said: “In its third year, the Prize has recognised and rewarded another outstanding novel. The Prize continues to generate great excitement and discussion, both in the Arabic world and beyond.”
Salwa Mikdadi, Head of the Arts and Culture Programme at the Emirates Foundation, added: “The Emirates Foundation is pleased and gratified at the exceptional response the Prize ha received regionally and internationally which has resulted in an increase in readership and opportunities for emerging Arab writers."
The Administrator of the Prize, Joumana Haddad, commented: “The importance of the IPAF lies not only in its financial value, but in the social and cultural influence it has, the most important aspect of which is supporting high quality Arabic fiction and encouraging both writers and readers to consider writing and reading as vital acts.”