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Arts & Culture


Jordan wins the International Prize for Arab Fiction

This year, Jalal Barjas, a Jordanian poet and novelist, wins the International Prize for Arabic Fiction for his novel Bookseller’s Notebooks. Back to this literary success but we promise not to tell you the ending!

Bookseller’s Notebook takes place between Jordan and Moscow, in the years 1947 to 2019, and tells the story of Ibrahim, a bookseller and avid reader, who loses his shop and becomes homeless. A victim of schizophrenia, he then begins to become a criminal committing a series of robberies, burglaries and murders under pseudonyms before meeting a woman who will change his destiny… 

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This novel boldly tackles a difficult reality, not only in Jordan but in the Arab world as a whole” reveals Professor Yasir Suleiman CBE, Director of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction Institute. “It is a painful and fragmented tale of marginalised people who are ignored or invisible to others, while a corrupt ruling class thrives”. 

This year’s jury for the Arab Fiction Prize was chaired by Lebanese poet Chawki Bazih. For him, the winner “presents the darkest portraits of homelessness and poverty, where meaning has been lost and hope torn from the roots, turning life into a realm of nightmares“. 

The author and writer Jalal Barjas was moved to thank the institute, which, thanks to this prize, will enable him to have his success translated into English and thus gain international recognition.

Jalal Barjas is a poet and novelist who has also worked in the field of aeronautical engineering. He has written articles for Jordanian newspapers and headed several cultural organisations. Today, he directs the Jordanian Narrative Laboratory and presents a radio programme called “House of the Novel“.

The IPAF, launched in 2007, is an annual literary prize. It is currently sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre within the Emirate’s Department of Culture and Tourism and has been mentored by the Booker Prize Foundation in London.

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Published on 26 May 2021