Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Emerging Arab talent meets in Abu Dhabi for literary masterclass
Six gifted Arab authors will today, Tuesday 30 October, start a week-long writer’s workshop as part of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction’s 2012 nadwa programme. This annual gathering brings together emerging talent from the Arab literary world, identified by former IPAF judges as ‘ones to watch’, and gives them the opportunity to hone their skills under the tutelage of IPAF shortlisted authors.
The workshop, sponsored by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Ruler's Representative in the Western Region, will take place over eight days in the privacy of a desert retreat in Abu Dhabi. During this time, the six writers will each produce a work of fiction. Guided by their mentors, the writers will be encouraged to critique each others’ work as well as discuss broader subjects of literary interest, such as the use of dialect in fiction. In due course, this new work will be translated into English and published as a bilingual volume.
This year’s authors range between 33 and 43 years of age. The two female and four male writers come from six countries across the Middle East including Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen, Palestine and Iraq. Two of them - Sara al-Jarwan and Waleed Ouda – are based in the United Arab Emirates. Sara al-Jarwan made history as the first female Emirati novelist, when she published in 1992 (though written years before in 1984) her novel, Shajan Bint Al Qadar Al Hazin (The Melancholy of the Daughter of a Sad Destiny).
The participants will be mentored by Iraqi novelist and journalist Inaam Kachachi and Sudanese writer Amir Tag Elsir. Inaam Kachachi was shortlisted for IPAF for her second novel, The American Granddaughter, in 2009. She was a mentor at the inaugural nadwa in 2009, including Egyptian writer Mansoura Ez Eldin, who went on to be shortlisted for IPAF in 2010 for her novel Beyond Paradise. Amir Tag Elsir was shortlisted for the Prize in 2011 for The Larvae Hunter.
Inaam Kachachi comments:
‘The IPAF nadwa provides an opportunity to discuss the art of the novel. It is always an enjoyable and mentally stimulating event. The first time I participated, on the island of Sir Bani Yas, it was a unique experience because of the varied ages, perceptions and literary styles of the participants. We also felt a genuine pleasure in seeing new writing taking form in front of us, holding it in our hands, and then later reading it in a printed book.’
IPAF Administrator Fleur Montanaro, who is coordinating the nadwa, adds:
‘The nadwa is like no other literary workshop in the Arab world. It brings together young writers from many different Arab countries in a non-competitive atmosphere and allows them to discuss each other's work and support each other in their creative endeavour. Some changed the way they write as a result of the workshop, and others have gone on to be nominated for IPAF and other prizes.’
The inaugural nadwa took place in November 2009 and included eight writers. The resulting fiction was published in English and Arabic by Dar Al Saqi Books in Emerging Arab Voices: Nadwa1, launched at Sharjah International Book Fair on 27 October 2010 and in the UK in January 2011. Two further workshops have taken place in Abu Dhabi, in October 2010 and October 2011 and a second book, Emerging Arab Voices: Nadwa2, published by Arab Scientific Publishers, was launched at Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2012. All three previous nadwas were run under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Ruler's Representative in the Western Region, UAE.
The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is the leading international prize for Arabic literature. Funded by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and 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.
Further information on the Prize can be found at: www.arabicfiction.org.