Nine authors have begun an eight day workshop led by three of the Arab world’s leading writers, Bahaa Taher, Zhor Gourram and Ibrahim Nasrallah. This marks the sixth year of the prestigious IPAF nadwa, which brings together emerging writers from across North Africa and the Middle East and gives them the opportunity to hone their skills under the tutelage of IPAF winning and shortlisted authors.
The workshop, which takes place in the secluded Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort , is sponsored by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Ruler's Representative in the Western Region.
The nine participants have been identified by former judges of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction as ‘ones to watch’. Aged 40 and under, they come from six different countries – the UAE, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Oman – and a variety of writing backgrounds and professions.
The aim of the nadwa is to give the authors a retreat where they are able to work on a new piece of fiction, or to develop an existing, unpublished work. They will be mentored by three writers from the IPAF fold: inaugural winner Bahaa Taher (2008), judge Zhor Gourram (2014) and shortlisted author Ibrahim Nasrallah (shortlist, 2009; longlist, 2013 and 2014). They will also take part in daily discussions with their peers, critiquing each other’s work as well as discussing literature in more general terms.
The result of the nadwa will be nine new works of fiction which will be, in time, edited and published through the IPAF website: www.arabicfiction.org. Two previous nadwa participants – Mansoura Ez Eldin and Mohammed Hasan Alwan – have gone on to be shortlisted for the prestigious prize; the latter for his 2012 novel, The Beaver, which began life in the IPAF nadwa in 2009. Ahmed Saadawi, who participated in the 2012 nadwa, won the prize in 2014 with Frankenstein in Baghdad.
Ibrahim Nasrallah comments:
“The key thing about the nadwa, in my view, is to be open to different kinds of writing and to discuss these differences. If we treat each session as a blank slate to debate our ideas, as well as the individual texts in hand, then both participants and the mentors can learn a great deal from the experience. Creativity often rebels against rules we have learnt and invents its own rules in turn.”
IPAF Administrator Fleur Montanaro, who is coordinating the nadwa, adds:
“The nadwa helps to develop the skills of talented young writers from a variety of countries and literary backgrounds. Its impact lasts well beyond the final day and it is a delight to see novels begun in the workshop going on to be published, read and sometimes even reaching the final stages of the prize. The nadwa is a unique opportunity for promising writers to benefit from the experience of established writers and critics of the likes of Bahaa Taher, Ibrahim Nasrallah and Zhor Gourram, to meet with them individually to discuss their work.”
The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is the leading international prize for Arabic literature. Sponsored by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) and run in association with the Booker Prize Foundation in the UK, the Prize aims to celebrate the very best of contemporary Arabic fiction and encourage wider international readership of Arabic literature through translation.
Further information on the Prize can be found at: www.arabicfiction.org.