The workshop, which takes place in the secluded desert resort of Qasr Al Sarab, is sponsored by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Ruler's Representative in the Western Region.
The eight participants have been identified by former judges of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction as ‘ones to watch’. Aged from 29 to 43, they come from eight different countries – Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Yemen, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Syria – and a variety of writing backgrounds and professions.
The aim of the nadwa is to give the authors a retreat where they are able to work on a new piece of fiction, or to develop an existing, unpublished work. They will be mentored by two writers from the IPAF fold – 2011 winner Mohammed Achaari from Morocco, and 2008 shortlisted writer May Menassa from Lebanon – as well as taking part in daily discussions with their peers, critiquing each other’s work as well as discussing literature in more general terms.
The result of the nadwa will be eight new works of fiction which will be, in time, edited and translated into a bilingual volume of extracts. To date, two volumes have been published, by Saqi Books and Arab Scientific Publishers. Two previous nadwa participants – Mansoura Ez Eldin and Mohammed Hasan Alwan – have gone on to be shortlisted for the prestigious prize; the latter for his 2012 novel, The Beaver, which began life in the IPAF nadwa in 2009.
Mohammed Achaari comments:
"I am greatly looking forward to encountering new texts as they are in the process of being created. It is commonly thought that writing is a work which happens between the writer and their text, in isolation and solitude. Perhaps this is true at a deep level, but transforming this almost sensory intimacy into open dialogue and group interchange gives the writing another dimension, as it becomes a shared effort. It will be exciting to get to know these new works in the mirror of other texts, both during the workshop and as they develop afterwards".
IPAF Administrator Fleur Montanaro, who is coordinating the nadwa, adds:
"We are delighted to be celebrating the fifth year of the IPAF nadwa, which provides a forum for talented young writers from across the Arab world to interact and engage with each other's work. In the company of Mohammed Achaari and May Menassa as mentors, this year’s nadwa promises to be as inspiring and stimulating as ever".
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.
Further information on the Prize can be found at: www.arabicfiction.org