The Arch and the Butterfly by Mohammed Achaari and The Doves’ Necklace by Raja Alem have today, Monday 14 March, been announced as the joint winners of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2011. This is the first time the prize has been split between two novelists.
According to the International Prize for Arabic Fiction's website “The first novel, The Arch and the Butterfly, deals with Islamic extremism and terrorism and its destructive effect upon Arabic society itself, rather than on the West." The second, The Dove’s Necklace, "reveals the true face of Mecca: Behind the city’s holy veil there is another Mecca, where many crimes are committed and there is also corruption, prostitution and mafias of building contractors who are destroying the historic areas of the city, and therefore its soul, for commercial gain.”
Traditionally the winner is awarded 50,000 US dollars but, as this year sees two winners, the prize money will be split between them. Both winners are guaranteed an English translation of their winning novels. Winners of the prize can also look forward to increased book sales and international recognition.