By Edward Nawotka
Saudi Arabian author Abdo Khal won the $60,000 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (the Arab Booker) for his novel Spewing Sparks as Big as Castles, which is also known as She Throws Sparks, and is published by Al-Jamal Publications.
Taleb Alrefai, who served as chair for this year’s panel of judges, said, “The winning novel is a brilliant exploration of the relationship between the individual and the state. Through the eyes of its two dimensional protagonist, the book gives the reader a taste of the horrifying reality of the excessive world of the palace.”
The novel, offers a portrait of the city of Jeddah as one divided between heaven and hell (the title is derived from Quranic verse that refers to Hell). The IAPF Web site says: “A painfully satirical novel, She Throws Sparks, depicts the destructive impact that power and limitless wealth has on life and the environment. It captures the seductive powers of the palace and tells the agonising story of those who have become enslaved by it, drawn by its promise of glamour. She Throws Sparks exposes the inner world of the palace and of those who have chosen to become its puppets, from whom it has stolen everything.”
Abdo Khal is a Saudi novelist born in al-Majanah, southern Saudi Arabia, in 1962. He studied political science at King Abdel Al Aziz University in Jeddah before starting writing in 1980. He is the author of several works, including: A Dialogue at the Gates of the Earth, There’s Nothing to be Happy About, and Cities Eating the Grass. Some of his works have been translated into English, French and German. In addition to his writing, he is a member of the board of directors of the Jeddah Literary Club and the editor-in-chief of the Ukaz newspaper, for which he writes a daily column.
You can read an earlier portrait of Khal here and more about the book, here.