Huda Barakat, winner of the 2019 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. Antonie Robertson / the National Huda Barakat, winner of the 2019 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. Antonie Robertson / the National

Huda Barakat's 'Night Mail' wins best fictional work

Thu, Apr. 25, 2019
CAIRO - 25 April 2019: The novel "Bareed el-Lail” (Night Mail) was selected at the International Prize for Arabic Fiction as the best fictional work published between July 2017 and June 2018.

The novel was selected from six novels from Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and Morocco. The five shortlisted candidates, Kafa al-Zu'bi, Shahla al-Ajili, Adel Esmat, Inaam Kaja jji and Mohammed al-Mazouz, were honored at the ceremony.

The candidates received a $10,000 prize and were hosted at the Abu Dhabi Book and Literature Union before announcing the winner, where they participated in a symposium moderated by writer and journalist Aisha Sultan.

During the ceremony, Chairman of the jury Sharafuddin Magdalene revealed the name of the winning novel, where Huda Barakat received a cash prize of US $50,000, in addition to translating her novel to English.

“The novel talks about an experience which is very specific in its intensification, enriching linguistics, narrative construction, and its ability to portray the human depth.” said Chairman Magdalene.

“In a codified set of letters, the “Night Mail” deals with its main theme in an enriching language, making each of its words a solid brick that plays its part in building spaces of convergent and divergent meanings at the same time,” stated Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction Yasser Suleiman.

"Night Mail" contains the stories of the real writers of the letters.

Huda Barakat was born in Beirut in 1952. She worked in teaching and journalism. Barakat currently lives in Paris, where she published six novels, two plays, a narrative collection, and a diary. She participated in group books in French and translated her works into several languages.

France granted Barakat two high-ranking awards.

The 2019 jury included Sharafuddin Magdalene (Chairman); Fawzia Abu Khaled, a Saudi poet, writer, academic and researcher on social and political issues; Zulikha Abourisha, a poet, columnist, researcher and activist on women's issues and human rights from Jordan; Latif Zeitouni, a Lebanese academic and critic who specializes in literature; and Zhang Hong Yi, a Chinese academic, translator and researcher.
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