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Ibrahim Nasrallah wins 2018 International Prize for Arabic Fiction

The Jordanian-Palestinian author Ibrahim Nasrallah—twice before in the running for the award—has been named the winner of the 2018 International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

In its annual prize ceremony on Tuesday evening (April 24) at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in the United Arab Emirates’ Abu Dhabi, the International Prize for Arabic Fiction has conferred its US$50,000 prize on Jordanian-Palestinian author Ibrahim Nasrallah for his cautionary futurist novel, The Second War of the Dog.

The book was first published in Arabic in 2016 by Lebanon-based Arab Scientific Publishers. Rights are represented by Raya Literary Agency. More information, including a sample translation, is available upon request here.

Nasrallah will participate on Wednesday (April 25) in an event with his five fellow shortlistees at the opening day here at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, which runs through May 1. That prize event with Nasrallah and his colleagues is set for 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. at the Sea of Culture Foundation stand at the fair (12B36), under the patronage of the Sheikha Shaikha bint Mohammed bin Khalid Al Nahyan.

Nasrallah has said that his book is “a warning of what we could become in the future.”

The book starts at what he calls “the moment of a loss of certainty, that loss of trust in those whom you interact closely with–that neighbor, brother, father, or whoever it may be.

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Ibrahim Nasrallah challenges followers of Arab literature to reconnect with their emotions

Nasrallah’s latest work Al Hob Shareer (Love is the Enemy) focuses solely on matters of the heart.

“No one talks about love anymore,” says Ibrahim Nasrallah with a sigh. “It is as if we eradicated those feelings out of all our writing because we deem it no longer important. It is a fallacy, of course, because love is everything.”

The Palestinian poet and novelist is commenting on the state of modern Arabic literature, which he describes as more concerned with the timely than the timeless.

“In a way, the Arab writer and the Arab reader have become the same,” he says.

“A lot of what is being written focuses on current issues, whether social or political. There is a feeling that if there is any deviation from that path and reading about other topics then they are not taking their time seriously. A sense of guilt creeps and this is totally wrong.”

Nasrallah has challenged that view with his latest work, Al Hob Shareer (Love is the Enemy) that focuses solely on matters of the heart.

With more than 80 poems and one libretto, the 63-year explores all facets of love from the emotional, primal, how it revitalises and how it can control.

Speaking before his session tonight at the Sharjah International Book Fair on the creative process plus a book signing on Saturday, Nasrallah says the book was born out of a challenge to himself.

“It began when I first started observing the dearth of current literature surrounding love. There is not a modern poetry collection, as far as I can see, that dealt with this matter exclusively,” he says.

“The last person to have done that was the great and classic writer Nizzar Qabani, and since that there has been no major body of work. So, I wanted to test myself and see if I can do it and then test the reader once it was published.”

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