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Iraqi novelist Ahmed Saadawi wins Arabic Booker 2014

One of the top prizes in Arabic literature goes to Iraqi writer for his novel Frankenstein in Baghdad

Sayed Mahmoud in Abu Dhabi, Tuesday 29 Apr 2014
Ahmed Saadawi
Iraqi winner receiving his prize from the head of the judging panel
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Iraqi writer and novelist Ahmed Saadawi has won the 2014 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) for his novel Frankenstein in Baghdad.

The $50,000 prize was announced on Tuesday during the opening of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair in the United Arab Emirates.

The shortlist, announced on 10 February, included Egypt's Ahmed Mourad, Syria's Khaled Khalifa, Iraqi authors Inaam Kashachi and Ahmed Saadawi and Moroccan authors Youssef Fadel and Abdel-Rahim Lahbibi.

All shortlisted finalists receive $10,000.

This year's judges panel was headed by Saudi critic Saad A. Al-Bazei and included Ahmed Al-Faitouri, Libyan journalist, novelist and playwright; Zhor Gourram, Moroccan academic, critic and novelist; Abdullah Ibrahim, Iraqi academic and critic and Mehmet Hakki Suçin, a Turkish academic specialising in Arabic language instruction and the translation of Arabic literature into Turkish.

The IPAF is an annual literary prize supported by the Booker Prize Foundation in London and funded by TCA Abu Dhabi in the UAE.

The prize was launched in Abu Dhabi in April 2007 with the aim of atracting more international attention for high quality Arab fiction. Both the winners and finalists can look forward to increased book sales both within the Arab world and internationally through translation.

Although the prize is often referred to as the Arabic Booker, the two prizes are not connected.

The winner:

Ahmed Saadawi is an Iraqi novelist, poet and screenwriter. He was born in 1973 in Baghdad, where he works as a documentary filmmaker. He is the author of a volume of poetry, Anniversary of Bad Songs (2000), and three novels, The Beautiful Country (2004), Indeed He Dreams or Plays or Dies (2008) and Frankenstein in Baghdad (2013). He has won several prizes and in 2010 was selected for Beirut39 as one of the 39 best Arab authors below the age of 40.

Short Synopsis: Frankenstein in Baghdad

Hadi Al-Attag lives in the populous Al-Bataween district of Baghdad. In the spring of 2005, he takes the body parts of those killed in explosions and sews them together to create a new body. When a displaced soul enters the body, a new being comes to life. Hadi call it "the-what's-its-name", while the authorities name it "Criminal X" and others refer to it as "Frankenstein".

Frankenstein begins a campaign of revenge against those who killed the previous owners of its body parts. As well as following Frankenstein’s story, the novel follows a number of connected characters, such as General Surur Majid of the Department of Investigation, who is responsible for pursuing the mysterious criminal, and Mahmoud Al-Sawadi, a young journalist who gets the chance to interview Frankenstein. 

Frankenstein in Baghdad offers a panoramic view of a city where people live in fear of the unknown, are unable to act in solidarity and are haunted by the unknown identity of the criminal who targets them all.

 

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