2018 International Prize for Arabic Fiction

The Second War of the Dog by Ibrahim Nasrallah is the winner of the 11th International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF).

Chair of Judges, Ibrahim Al Saafin, made the announcement at a ceremony at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi. In addition to winning $50,000, funding will be provided for the English translation of The Second War of the Dog.

Al Saafin praised the winning title as “a masterful vision of a dystopian future in a nameless country, using fantasy and science fiction techniques. With humor and insight, it exposes the tendency towards brutality inherent in society, imagining a time where human and moral values have been discarded and anything is permissible, even the buying and selling of human souls.”

When his book was shortlisted Nasrallah said: ‘The novel was written to provoke the reader, to worry the reader, to even, sometimes, make them breathless. The Second War of the Dog is, in my opinion, a warning of what we could become in the future …The novel starts off at the moment of a loss of certainty, that loss of trust in those whom you interact closely with – that neighbour, brother, father, or whoever it may be. The novel suggests that if we continue on our current path, we will reach a future where we would become mostly annihilistic.’

Nasrallah was born in 1954 to Palestinian parents who were uprooted from their land in 1948. He spent his childhood in the Alwehdat Palestinian Refugee Camp in Amman, Jordan and began his working life as a teacher in Saudi Arabia. After returning to Amman, he worked as a journalist and for the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.

The five shortlisted finalists, Amir Tag Elsir, Aziz Mohammed, Shahad Al Rawi, Walid Shurafa and Dima Wannous were also honoured at the ceremony, each receiving $10,000.

Fulfilling its ambition to increase the international reach of Arabic fiction, the Prize provides funding for English translation for its winners. This year has seen the publication of 2014 winner Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad by Oneworld in the UK and Penguin Books in the US.

The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is an annual literary prize for prose fiction in Arabic. It is run with the support, as its mentor, of the Booker Prize Foundation in London and sponsored by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi).

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh for the story.]

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