Sudanese Writer and Novelist, Hammour Ziada, has won the 2014 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature for is novel Shawq Al-Darwish ("The Longings of a Dervish") . The announcement took place in a ceremony held at the Oriental Hall at the American University in Cairo.
The prize is awarded annually on the anniversary of the Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz's birthday.
This year’s panel of judges for the Mahfouz Medal consists of Tahia Abdel Nasser, Shereen Abul-Naga, Mona Tolba, Humphrey Davies, and Rasheed El-Enany.
Last year, the Medal was awarded to Syrian writer, Kahled Khalifa for his novel, La Sakakin fi Matabekh Hazehi Al-Madina (No Knives in this City's Kitchens).
Egyptians have won the prize more than any other country, claiming the award 11 out of 20 times since its inception.
The Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature is sponsored by the AUC Press, which is the publisher of some 50 Naguib Mahfouz English-language editions, and has contracted more than 600 other foreign-language editions on behalf of the Nobel laureate in 40 languages.
In their citation, the judges of the Award Committee described The Longing of the Dervish as “an intricate love story of a Sudanese slave in the world of the Mahdist movement in nineteenth-century Sudan.”
They praised not only the author’s “wide-ranging palette of characters and events” but also the range and dexterity of Ziada’s writing: “Shawq al-darwish is characterised by an epic richness that courses through the narrative, not only on the level of the complexity of the character of the tragic hero, but also on the level of the multiplicity of the modes of discourse: marvelously and richly alternating between narrative, poetry, songs, folklore, historical documents, Sufi and church hymns, Quranic and Biblical verses, and even writing about writing. . . .”
Hammour Ziada moved to Cairo in 2009 to study information technology and computer science. He worked as a civil society and human rights researcher, then as a journalist writing for Ajras al-hurriya, al-Mustaqilla, al-Jarida, and al-Yawm al-tali. He was also responsible for the publication of the Cultural Section of Al-Akhbar Al-sudaniya. His other published works are Sira Umm Durmaniya (short stories, 2008), al-Kung (novel, 2010), and al-Nawm ‘ind qadamay al-jabal (short stories, 2014).