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Egyptians land new Qatari literary awards

Qatar's Katara Prize for Arab Literature, with $750,000 worth of prize money, is set to rival the Emirate's Arabic Booker

Mohammed Saad , Friday 22 May 2015

The winners of Qatar's new literary prize, the Katara Prize for Arab Literature, were announced on Wednesday at a ceremony in Doha.

The published novel prize went to Egypt's Ibrahim Abdel-Meguied for his novel Adagio; Algerian writer Wajiny Laredj for his novel Mamlaket El-FarashaI (The Butterfly Kingdom); Sudanese novelist Amir Tag El-Sir for his novel 366; Bahraini writer Mounira Sowar for her novel Jarria (A Slave Woman); and Iraqi writer Nassira Sa'doun for her novel Dawamat Al-Raheel (The Whirl of Departure).

The unpublished novel prizes went to Iraqi Maysalun Hadi for her novel al-arsh wal jadwal (The Throne and the River); Egyptian writer Sameh El-Gabbas for Habl Qadim we Oqda Mashdouda (An Old Rope and Tight Knot); Moroccan writer Zakaria Abu-Maria for his novel Mazamir (Flutes); Moroccan Abdel-Jalil Al-Wazani for his novel Imra'a fil Zil (A Woman in the Shadow); and Jordanian writer Galal Borgous for his novel Afa'I al-Nar (The Snakes of the Fire).

Waciny Laredj, who won a prize in the published novel branch, also won the Grand Drama Prize for the same novel. The Minor Drama Prize went to Egyptian Sameh El-Gabbas, who won a prize in the unpublished novels section for the same book.

The prize was launched in 2014 and will be granted annually, and, according to its website, it "seeks to enhance the presence of distinguished Arabic novels locally and internationally, and encourage Arab novelists to go ahead into a more open horizon for creativity."

The new prize, which is one of the highest net worth prizes, is seen as an attempt by Qatar to establish a prize similar to the Emirates prestigious International Prize for Arabic Fiction, known as Arabic Booker, which gets huge attention from the media and from literature readers as well, and has been a huge success for the past nine years.

The large monetary value of the prizes has generated controversy with some literary figures calling the relatively big sums are "political in nature." 

12 winners in four fields were awarded $750,000 in total by the Qatar, compared to $50,000 as a total prize for the winner of its prestigious Emirati counterpart, the Arabic Booker.

The prize's four fields are: published novels (five prizes, $60,000 each), unpublished novels (five prizes, $30,000 each), Grand Prize for Drama (one prize worth $200,000), and Minor Drama Prize (one prize worth $100,000).

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