The Sheikh Zayed Book Award announced today the four winners in its 9th session (2014/2015).
The ‘Literature’ Award went to Osama Alaysa from Palestine for his novel “Majaneen bait lahem” (The fools of Bethlehem), while Hanawa Haruo from Japan was named winner of the 'Translation' Award for his Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo Trilogy (Palace Walk, Palace of Desire and Sugar Street) translated to Japanese. The 'Arab Culture in Other Languages' Award went to Sugita Hideaki from Japan as well, for his book “Arabian-Naito to Nihon-Jin” (The Arabian Nights and the Japanese), while The Arab Scientific Publishers Inc. from Lebanon won the 'Publishing and Technology' Award.
From his side, Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, Secretary General of Sheikh Zayed Book Award, congratulated the winners of all categories for their achievement, stressing that their work deserve this grand recognition, especially as the Sheikh Zayed Book Award thrives to live up to the name it holds and honours in memory of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and its mission to celebrate outstanding writers, intellectuals, publishers as well as young talents whose writings and translations of humanities have scholarly and objectively enriched Arab cultural, literary and social life.
Bin Tamim explained that the winners’ selection came after extensive discussions between the Awards’ Board of Trustees and the Scientific Committee of the results submitted by the judging panels across the Award’s nine Categories. The judges independently evaluated submitted works from over 31 countries worldwide in this year’s session, which were translated in a longlist and a shortlist of contenders towards the selection of the winning titles.
Bin Tamim also expressed his gratitude to members of the Board of Trustees, Scientific Committee, the judging panels and reading panels for their efforts and dedication. He also thanked universities and cultural entities for their nominations, and acknowledged the hard work put forth by the nominees this year.
2015 Sheikh Zayed Book Award Winners
The ‘Literature’ Award
Majaneen bait lahem (The fools of Bethlehem) a novel by Osama Alaysa from Palestine, published by Nofal-Hachette Antoine (2013).
The novel emerges as a unique literary creation that narrates the history of the place, traces the changes it went through by using the motif of madness in a way that reflects an entire intellectual period in the Arab World. The work finds inspiration in the traditional narrative forms as such as those of the Arabian Nights and makes use of the more recent narrative techniques, perceptively linking history and reportage, and mixing realistic presentation with magical realism. The wealth of character types and of subsidiary tales harmonises beautifully with the main narrative line.
Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo Trilogy (Palace Walk, Palace of Desire and Sugar Street) translated to Japanese language from Arabic by Hanawa Haruo from Japan, and published by Kokusho Kankokai (2013).
The translation of Naguib Mahfouz' Cairo Trilogy into Japanese by the researcher constitutes an achievement that transcends the linguistic dimension, and constitutes a cultural dialogue between the Arab and the Japanese worlds through what the translation reveals about the social history of Egypt and the transformations that occurred in the decades between the 1920s and the 1950s.
'Arab Culture in Other Languages' Award
Arabian-Naito to Nihon-Jin (The Arabian Nights and the Japanese) by Sugita Hideaki from Japan, published by Iwanami Shoten (2012).
The book constitutes a turning point in the development of the way the Japanese, unshackled by Western Orientalist attitudes, viewed Arab culture. It traces the influence of the Arabian Nights on all aspects of modern Japanese culture, starting with the reforms of the enlightened Meiji Era (1868-1912) until the present time, on Japanese children’s literature, and on Japanese theatre, fiction, cinema, travel literature, translation, comparative literature, and other fields of knowledge in Japan.
'Publishing and Technology' Award
Arab Scientific Publishers Inc. from Lebanon
The publishing house continued, ever since it was established thirty years ago, to work within the framework of a cultural project, which is keen on publishing scientific, intellectual, and creative works contributing to the movement of enlightenment, and aiming at raising Arab consciousness by this kind of publishing. The publishing house continued to publish serious and significant works targeting all age groups, and showed keen interest in translating from the modern languages, and in participating in book fairs held in Arab countries.
The Board of Trustees announced withholding four awards in total this year; “Literary and Art Criticism”, “Young Author”, “Contribution to the Development of Nations” in addition to “Children’s Literature” as nominations in these categories did not meet the Award’s standards for winning.
The Sheikh Zayed Book Award's first installment was in 2007, intended to promote scholarship and creativity in Arab culture. It carries cash prizes totaling AED 7 million - with AED750,000 per winner (equivalent to around USD 200,000) in all eight categories, and 1 million dirhams for the winner of the “Cultural Personality of the Year”. The winners also receive a certificate of merit and a Gold Medal. The Awards Presentation Ceremony will take place in Abu Dhabi in May 2015 during the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.