Renowned Egyptian writer and novelist Bahaa Taher, who turned 80 this year, has won the award at Cairo's Sixth International Forum for the Arabic Novel, which was held between 15 and 18 March, under the title ‘The Transformations and Aesthetics of the Novelistic Form.’
The decision was announced on the 18th of March by the Algerian novelist Waciny Laredj, the head of the judging panel.
Laredj said that the award was granted to Taher for his literary achievement as a whole and not for one novel. He said that Taher has a legacy of half a century and his works can't be compared to any other young novelist, asserting at the same time that the panel's decision did not marginalise the youth
The forum, which was held for the first time since the revolution, doubled the monetary value of the award this year to LE200, 000 ($26,000).
The judging panel was headed by Waciny Laredj, and included Egyptian critics Hussein Hamouda, Khairy Douma, Ibrahim Fathy, Syrian writer Sobhi Hadidi, Moroccan Said Yaqtin, Botrous Halaq, from Syria writer, Najwa Barakat from Lebanon, and Yehia Yakhlouf from Palestine.
Taher, the winner of the first Arabic Booker, said that he is pleased and honored to win the prize, yet he wished if it had been given to a young writer, saying that he knows many young writers, who deserved the prize.
Late Saudi novelist Abdel-Rahman Munif, Egyptian writer Sonallah Ibrahim, late Sudanese novelist Tayyeb Saleh, Egyptian writer Edward El-Kharrat, and Libyan writer Ibrahim El-Kouny won the prize in previous terms.
Cairo's International Forum for the Arabic Novel was held for the first time in 1998, and has not been held on a regular basis since then. This year's edition was in honour of the late Egyptian writer Fathy Ghanem.
Bahaa Taher (born on 13 January 1935) is one of Egypt's most notable novelists and writers, he was awarded the International Prize for Arabic fiction (Arabic Booker) in its first edition in 2008 and the Award of Merit in Literature. Taher's most famous novels are Sunset Oasis (2007), Love in Exile (1995), Aunt Safiyya and the Monastery.