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Sheikh Zayed Book Award announces shortlists for 18th edition of the prize featuring international and Arab writers

Bridging Arab cultures across the globe, Sheikh Zayed Book Award unveils an illuminating shortlist

Update : 06 Apr 2024, 02:35 PM

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA), organized by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre under the auspices of the Department of Culture and Tourism -- Abu Dhabi, has announced the shortlists for its 18th edition, featuring authors and institutions from 16 different countries, showcasing the breadth and reach of Arab culture around the world.

The award is one of the world’s leading prizes dedicated to Arab literature and culture and has been celebrating writers, scholars, translators, cultural leaders, institutions, and organizations for almost two decades since its inception in 2006. SZBA also continues to support the publication of Arabic literature across the world through the SZBA Translation Grant, which awards translation funds to international publishers every year.

This year’s Literature shortlist features a remarkable list of internationally published writers. Egyptian author Reem Bassiouney is shortlisted for the second year running for her historical novel Al Halwani: The Fatimid Trilogy, which depicts the lives of Egyptians under three generations of rulers of the Fatimid dynasty. Several of her historical novels and academic books have been translated into English in the UK and USA.

Jordanian novelist Jalal Barjas, winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2021, is shortlisted for his novel The Duduk’s Whimper, a fictionalized autobiography of his travels through Britain, Armenia and Algeria. His previous novel, The Bookseller's Notebooks, is published in English by Simon and Schuster and translated by Paul G Starkey. Finally, Lebanese author and previous recipient of the Naguib Mahfouz Medal Hassan Daoud is shortlisted for his latest novel A Chance for One Last Love, featuring the residents of two buildings engaging in voyeurism, internal monologues, and interactions against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic. Several of his previous books have been translated into English, including The Penguin’s Song, translated by Marilyn Booth and published by independent US publisher City Lights Books.

The Publishing and Technology 2024 shortlist features four international organizations who, through their work, have enriched the international study and reception of Arabic literature and culture. They are: The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the Chinese publisher Bayt Elhekma for Creative Industries, the previously shortlisted Internationale Jugendbibliothek in Munich, Germany, and the Finjan Podcast from Saudi Arabia.

This year’s contribution to the Development of Nations shortlist features internationally acclaimed historian and co-founder of the Damascus History Foundation Sami Marwan Moubayed, shortlisted for Tramway Railway: The Path of Modernity Passed Through Damascus, a history of modernity in the Syrian capital in the late 19th and early 20th century. Also shortlisted are Emirati geographer Dr Khalifa Alromaithi for Geographical Names -- Legacy of Generations, a study on toponymy in the United Arab Emirates delving into the fascinating history of geographical names and Dr Fatima Bakouch from Tunisia for her work The Arabic Language: A Study of Cognitive Semantics.

This year’s shortlist for Arab Culture in Other Languages includes authors from the USA, Germany, Italy, and France, writing on a range of topics relating to Arab history, literature and culture. German scholar Frank Griffel (University of Oxford, formerly Yale University) is shortlisted for The Formation of Post-Classical Philosophy in Islam, a work of extraordinary ambition that offers a detailed and insightful history of philosophy during the twelfth century. American professor of literature Eric Calderwood (University of Illinois) is shortlisted for On Earth or in Poems: The Many Lives of al-Andalus, a survey of the legacy of al-Andalus amongst Arab and Muslim artists and thinkers in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. German Arabist Thomas Bauer (University of Münster) is shortlisted for Why There Was No Islamic Middle Ages, a work which argues that classical Islamic civilization far outlasted the ancient world in Europe, with ancient cities and sciences flourishing for centuries longer than their European counterparts. Italian scholar Antonella Ghersetti (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice) is shortlisted for The Literature of Adab, a study of the Adab period of Arabic literature in the early Abbasid age. Finally, French author Florence Ollivry is shortlisted for Louis Massignon and Islamic mysticism: An analysis of a contribution to Islamology, which appraises the work of the French pioneer of Islamic Studies Louis Massignon.

The Translation category celebrates once again cross-cultural connections and studies this year with a strong focus on seminal works in the field of humanities translated into Arabic. Among the shortlisted translators are Egyptian academic Said Tawfik for his translation of Arthur Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation, Kuwaiti literary translator Dalal Naserallah for her translation of Italo Calvino’s Why Read the Classics?, and Tunisian academic Dr Ahmed Somai for his translation of Giambattista Vico’s The New Science.

This year’s Young Author shortlist recognizes the work of three young Arab scholars, Mustapha Rajouane, Dr Alawi Ahmed Al Malgami, and Dr Houssem Eddine Chachia, respectively from Morocco, Yemen, and Tunisia. Finally, the inaugural shortlist for the Editing of Arabic Manuscripts category, dedicated to works that have contributed to the field of editing of Arabic manuscripts, features Awad bin Mohammed Salem Al Daheel Al Awlaqi from Saudi Arabia, Al-Mahdi Eid Al-Rawadieh from Jordan, and Dr Mustafa Said from Egypt.

Dr Ali bin Tamim, secretary-general of SZBA and chairman of Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, said, "We are delighted to unveil this year's shortlist, which exemplifies excellence in contemporary academic, fiction, and nonfiction literature relating to the Arab world. Throughout the rigorous submissions and evaluation process for this prestigious award, we have witnessed wide-ranging and thought-provoking subject matter, highlighting the depth, creativity, and scholarly rigour of the contemporary Arab publishing community. It is with great pride that we present this remarkable shortlist, offering a glimpse into the cultural richness and intellectual vitality of       today's Arab literary landscape."

After another record year for the award, with a total of 4,240 submissions from 74 countries (including 19 Arab nations and 55 from beyond the Arab world), the winners will be announced at the end of the month. They will each receive 750,000 UAE dirhams (£160,621 / $204,198), while the cultural personality will receive 1,000,000 UAE dirhams (£214,161 / $272,264) at the award ceremony taking place at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair on April 30.

Photos collected from Sheikh Zayed Book Awards Media Center.

The 18th edition shortlists are:


  • Fursa L-Gharam Akheer (A Chance for One Last Love) by Hassan Dawood (Lebanon), published by Hachette Antoine/Nofal in 2022
  • Al Halwani...Thulathiyat al-Fatimiyeen (Al Halwani: The Fatimid Trilogy) by Reem Bassiouney (Egypt), published by Nahdet Misr Publishing, Printing and Distribution in 2022
  • Nasheej al-Duduk (The Duduk’s Whimper) by Jalal Barjas (Jordan), published by the Arab Institute for Research and Publishing in 2023

Publishing and Technology

  • Internationale Jugendbibliothek (The International Youth Library), Munich, Germany
  • Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spanish National Research Council), Spain
  • Bayt Elhekma for Creative Industries, China Finjan Podcast, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Contribution to the Development of Nations

  • Al-Asmaa’ al-Jughrafiya -- Thakirat Ajyal (Geographical Names -- Legacy of Generations) by Dr Khalifa Alromaithi (UAE), published by Austin Macauley Publishers in 2022
  • Sikkat al-Tramway: Tareeq al-Hadatha Marra bi-Dimashq (Tramway Railway: The Path of Modernity Passed Through Damascus) by Sami Marwan Moubayed (Syria/UK), published by Riad El Rayyes Books in 2022
  • Al-Arabiya Lughat al-Aayn: Dirasa Dalaliya Uurfaniya (The Arabic Language: A Study of Cognitive Semantics) by Dr Fatima Bakouch (Tunisia), published by Masciliana Editions in 2023

Arab Culture in Other Languages

  • The Formation of Post-Classical Philosophy in Islam by Frank Griffel (Germany), published in English by Oxford University Press in 2021
  • On Earth or in Poems: The Many Lives of al-Andalus by Eric Calderwood (USA), published in English by Harvard University Press in 2023
  • Warum es kein islamisches Mittelalter gab (Why There Was No Islamic Middle Ages) by Thomas Bauer (Germany), published in German by CH Beck Verlag in 2018
  • La letteratura d’adab (The Literature of Adab) by Antonella Ghersetti (Italy), published in Italian by Istituto per l’Oriente Carlo Nallino in 2021
  • Louis Massignon et la mystique musulmane: Analyse d’une contribution à l’islamologie (Louis Massignon and Islamic mysticism: An analysis of a contribution to Islamology) by Florence Ollivry (France/Canada), published in French by Brill Publishing in 2023


  • Al-Aalam Iradatan wa-Tamathulan (Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung -- The World as Will and Representation) authored by Arthur Schopenhauer, translated from German to Arabic by Dr Said Tawfik (Egypt), published by Dar Al Kitab Al Jadeed in 2023
  • Limatha Naqraa’ al-Adab al-Classiki? (Perché Leggere I Classici -- Why Read the Classics?) authored by Italo Calvino, translated from Italian to Arabic by Dalal Naserallah (Kuwait), published by Al Mada for Media, Culture and Arts in 2021
  • Al-Ilm al-Jadeed (La Scienza Nuova -- The New Science) authored by Giambattista Vico, translated from Italian to Arabic by Dr Ahmed Somai (Tunisia), published by Adab Publishing and Distribution in 2022

Young Author

  • Na’eesh li-Nahki: Balaghat al-Takhyeel fi Kalila wa Dimna (Living to Narrate: The Eloquent Imagination in Kalīla wa-Dimna) by Mustapha Rajouane (Morocco), published by Kunouz Al-Ma’refa Publishing and Distribution House in 2023
  • Simya’iyat al-Qira’a: Dirasa fi Shurooh Diwan al-Mutanabbi fi al-Qarn al-Sabe’ Hijri (The Semiotics of Reading: A Study of the Seventh Hijri Century Interpretation of the

Al-Mutanabbi Diwan) by Dr Alawi Ahmed Al Malgami (Yemen), published by Kunouz Al-Ma’refa Publishing and Distribution House in 2023

  • Al Mashhad al-Moriski: Sardiyat al-Tard fi al-Fikr al-Espani (The Morisco Landscape Narratives of Expulsion in Modern Spanish Thought) by Dr Houssem Eddine Chachia (Tunisia), published by the Centre for Research and Knowledge Intercommunication in 2023

Editing of Arabic Manuscripts

  • Sharh Diwan Thi-Al Rimma li Abi al-Hasan Ali bin Mohammed bin Ali bin Kharouf Al-Eshbili Al-Andalusi (Interpretation of the Diwan of Thi Al Rimma by Abi Al Hassan Ali bin Mohammed bin Ali bin Kharouf Al-Eshbili Al-Andalusi) by Awad bin Mohammed Salem Al Daheel Al Awlaqi (Saudi Arabia), published by Dar Al Nawader -- Al Madina Al Munawwarah Literary Publishing Club in 2019
  • Al-Fawa’id al-Sunniya fi al-Rihla al-Madaniya wal-Rumiya, Tathkirat al-Nahrawali (Sunni Benefits in the Madani and Roman Journey ‘Nahrawali Diary’) by Al-Mahdi Eid Al-Rawadieh (Jordan), published by The Orient-Institut Beirut in 2022
  • Safinat al-Mulk wa-Nafisat al-Fulk (Shehab al-Din) al-Muwashah wa-Musiqa al-Maqam al-Natiqa bil-Arabiya bayn al-Tantheer wal-Maras (The Ship of Possession and the Precious Ship (Shehab al-Din) -- Muwashah and Arabic-speaking Maqam Music between Theory and Practice) by Dr Mustafa Said (Egypt), published by ElAin Publishing in 2023

Rishi Majumder works with the Sheikh Zayed Book Awards Media Centre.

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