Sheikh Zayed Book Award announces the shortlist for 14th edition of prize in record-breaking year for submissions

Abu Dhabi,

  • Record-breaking year for submissions with 1,900 nominations from 49 nations
  • Literature and Young Author categories led submissions, demonstrating a rise in young talent 
  • Winners to be awarded during a ceremony at Abu Dhabi International Book Fair in April
The shortlists have been announced for the 14th edition of the Sheikh Zayed Book Awards across six key categories. 

An independent judging panel chose shortlists for each category out of an impressive 1,900 nominations from 49 countries, in a significant increase from 1,500 entries the previous year. The Young Author and Literature categories dominated submissions, demonstrating a sustained rise in young talent that is bolstering the Arabic-language literary sphere.  

Winners will receive prize money of 750,000 UAE dirhams (204,181 USD), to be awarded in a special ceremony that takes place during the Abu Dhabi Dhabi International Book Fair in April. The winning titles that fall under children’s books or literature will also be eligible for translation funding.

The shortlists are announced for the following categories: Young Author, Literature, Children’s Literature, Publishing and Technology, Translation, and Arabic Culture in Other Languages. 

Notable mentions include the prizewinning Kuwaiti author Bothayna Al-Essa, who was previously longlisted for the Young Author award in 2012, and a poetry collection by Tunisian poet Moncef Al-Wahaibi, who was longlisted for Literature in 2014. 

In Children’s Literature, an all-female shortlist of established novelists includes the American-Palestinian prize-winning author Ibtisam Barakat, whose nominated novel The Purple Girl is an illustrated story about famous Palestinian artist Taman Alkahal.

The Publishing and Technology Award, introduced in 2008 to recognise the rising contributions of technology in advancing the field of Arabic publishing, is this year endorsed by three prestigious institutions, the Library of Alexandria (Egypt), the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations (Paris) and the UK-based Banipal Magazine.

The shortlist for Arabic Culture in Other Languages this year showcases five scholarly works that challenge or fill significant gaps in understandings of Arabic history, culture, and its literary tradition, while the Translation Award notably includes a translation from Arabic into French of the polemical treatise ‘Doubts About Galen’ written by Persian polymath Abū Bakr al-Rāzī and translated by Pauline Koetschet.

Dr. Ali bin Tamim, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Authority and Secretary General of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, said of this year’s submissions: 

We have received exceptional works from prominent authors and publishing houses, cultural centers and universities. Such an impressive improvement in the volume of participation reaffirms the award’s resounding success achieved year-on-year. It also underscores the cultural status of the United Arab Emirates, being a global hub for culture makers, intellectuals, creators, publishers, and youth.

For every category, the shortlist selected by the jury aims to showcase the most challenging and exciting work representing the Arab world, and to meet the awards’ overarching mission, “to encourage greater scholarship and creativity by recognizing and rewarding significant cultural achievements in Arabic culture.” Previous winners have included British author Dame Marina Warner, the Institut du Monde Arab in Paris, Italian historian Mario Liverani, Japanese historian Sugita Hideaki, and German researcher David Wirmer.

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award will be present at The London Book Fair (10-12 March) and is hosting a panel event titled Sheikh Zayed Book Award: The Positive Impact of Prizes on Translation at the English PEN Literary Salon, on Tuesday 10th March, 1.30pm.

The shortlisted titles:

  • Ma’wa Al Gheyab (Shelter of Absence) by Egyptian author Mansoura Ezzedine (Mamdouh Adwan Publishing and Distribution House with Sard Publishing)
  • Belkas ma Qabl Al Akheera (The Penultimate Cup) by Tunisian poet Moncef Al-Wahaibi (Meskeliani Publishing and Distribution)
  • Arwah Sakhrat Al Asal (Souls of Honey Rocks) by Syrian author Mamdouh Azzam (Mamdouh Adwan Publishing and Distribution House with Sard Publishing)
Young Author
  • Kol Al Ashya’a (All Things) by Kuwaiti author Bothayna Al-Essa (Arab Scientific Publishers, Inc.)
  • Al Muhawara fi Adb Abi Hayyan al-Tawhidi: Derasah fi Khasaes al Tafa’ol Al Tawasoli, Al Adab AlMajlisi fe Mudwenat AlTawhidi (Dialogue in Abu Hayyan al-Tawhidi Literature: A Study in the Characteristics of Communication Interaction) by Saudi author Dr. Manal Saleh M. Al-Mohimeed (Dar Kunouz Al Ma’refa Publishers)
  • ilm Al Kalam Al Islami fi Derasat al Mustashrikeen Al Alman (Islamic Theology in the Studies of German Orientalists) by Iraqi author Hayder Qasim (Al Rawafed Culture and Nadim Edition)
Children’s Literature
  • Saqi Almaa (The Water Provider) by Emirati author Maryam Saqer Al Qasimi (Al Hudhud Publishing and Distribution)
  • Nuzhati Al Ajeeba Ma’ Al Am Salem (My Wondrous Picnic with Uncle Salem) by Emirati author Nadia AlNajjar (Dar Al Saqi Publishing)
  • Al Fatat Al Lialakia (The Purple Girl) by Palestinian-American author Ibtisam Barakat (Tamer Institute for Community Education)
  • Al Manteqa Al Mo’atemah: Al Tareekh Al Seri Lelharb Alsebraniya (The Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War) by Fred Kaplan, translated from English to Arabic by Loay Abdel Mageed (National Council for Culture, Arts and Literature in Kuwait)
  • Al-Insan Al-Romantiqi (L’Homme Romantique) by Georges Gusdorf, translated from French to Arabic by Mohamed Ait Mihoub (Dracher Sinatra/Tunis Institute for Translation)
  • Al Shokouk Ala Galen (Abū Bakr al-Rāzī: Doutes sur Galien) by Abu Bakr Al-Razi, translated from Arabic to French by Pauline Koetschet (Walter de Gruyter)
Arab Culture in Other Languages
  • Warum es kein islamisches Mittelalter gab (Why There Were No Islamic Middle Ages) by German author Thomas Bauer (C.H. Beck) 
  • 1001 Buch: Die Literaturen des Orients (1001 Books: The Literatures of the Orient) by German author Stefan Weidner (Converso) 
  • Croire au Maghreb médiéval: La sainteté en question XIVe-XVe siècle (Beliefs of the Medieval Maghreb: Sainthood in question in the 14th-15th centuries) by French author Nelly Amri (Éditions du Cerf)
  • The Thousand and One Nights and Twentieth-Century Fiction: Intertextual Readings by Dutch author Richard Van Leeuwen (Brill)
  • Sufi Network. Le confraternite islamiche tra globalizzazione e tradizione (The Sufi Network. The Islamic Brotherhood between Globalization and Tradition) by Italian author Francesco Alfonso Leccese (Jouvence)
Publishing and Technology
  • Library of Alexandria, Egypt
  • National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations, Paris
  • Banipal Magazine, UK