The Sheikh Zayed Book Award Program Announces 2019 Shortlists

In News by Porter Anderson

Three key categories of shortlists have been named in the 2019 Sheikh Zayed Book Award program, with the prize ceremony set for April 25.

Winners of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award 2019 will be presented in Abu Dhabi on April 25. Image: HQWS, producer of the award ceremonies, Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Achievements in Arabic Culture’
In one of the publishing industry’s most thorough awards-judging programs, there are currently nine selection committees working through this month on shortlists for the 2019 Sheikh Zayed Book Award.

Today (February 11), shortlists have been announced in three key categories for this 13th year of the prize program’s operation:

  • Literature (including poetry, short stories, novels, biographies, playscripts, and more)
  • Children’s Literature (including young adult, or YA, titles)
  • Young Authors

Each of the program’s nine committees comprises three to five jurors who have been chosen by the program’s “scientific committee” to make their categorized selections. The jurors are anonymous, a condition imposed to maintain their independence: they’re free to make the decisions they think are best.

In every case, the determinations of the jurors are meant to answer the program’s over-arching goal, “to encourage greater scholarship and creativity by recognizing and rewarding significant cultural achievements in Arabic culture.”

The winning titles that fall under children’s books or literature will be eligible for translation funding from the award.

“The book is the basis of civil authenticity and a key factor in the confirmation of its civilization.”Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan

In a quote from the writings of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, we read the kind of worldview that motivates the prize’s organizers each year: “The book is a container of science, civilization, culture, knowledge, literature and arts. Nations aren’t only measured by material wealth, but also by their civil authenticity. The book is the basis of this authenticity and a key factor in the confirmation of its civilization.”

The total 117 titles longlisted in the program’s nine categories were drawn from 382 initial nominations.

At stake is a purse of 750,000 United Arab Emirates dirhams (US$204,176) in each of the eight book categories. The Cultural Personality of the Year carries an award of 1 million dirhams (US$272, 235). In every case, a winner is also given a gold medal with the award program’s logo and a certificate of merit.

As can be seen in the video below, the timeline of the award program itself orchestrates the many committees’ and jurors’ efforts, to culminate in the annual award program on April 25 this year, at Abu Dhabi’s Manarat Al Saadiyat.

A shot from the 2016 Sheikh Zayed Book Award ceremony in Abu Dhabi. Image: HQWS, producer of the award ceremonies, Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Book Award 2019 Shortlist: Literature

Bensalem Himmich

For a sixth year, the Literature category has received the highest number of submissions, coming in at 382 titles. The shortlist is drawn from a longlist of 13 books.

  • The autobiography Al That Bayn Al Wujood Wal Eijad (The Self: Between Existence and Creation) by Moroccan novelist Bensalem Himmich, published by Book Cultural Centre (2018)
  • Terter (The Sequined Embroidery) by Iraqi novelist Nizar Abdelsattar, published by Nofal- Hachette Antoine (2018)
  • Ghawaso Al Ahqaf (Divers of the Empty Quarter) by Saudi novelist Amal Al Faran, published by Jadawel Publishing (2016)
Sheikh Zayed Book Award 2019 Shortlist: Young Author

Saud Alsanousi

The Young Author category began this year’s awards cycle iwth 365 nominations. The jurors have drawn their shortlist from a 12-book longlist.

  • Hamam Al Dar (Birds of the House) by Kuwaiti writer Saud Alsanousi, published by Arab Scientific Publishers / Difaf Publishing (2017)
  • Al Ma’rifa Wal Sulta (Knowledge and Power: Approaching the Worlds of Michel Foucault) by Moroccan scholar Omar Al Tawer, published by Editions Approaches (2018)
  • Rouh Al Qiyam Wa Houriyat Al Mafaheem (The Essence of Values and the Freedom of Social Concepts) by Algerian scholar Abderrezak Belagrouz‏,  published by the Arabian Establishment for Thought and Innovation (2017)
Sheikh Zayed Book Award 2019 Shortlist: Children’s Books

In Children’s Literature, the jurors placed 10 titles into longlist contention, and they started with a cohort of 168 nominations.

  • Ana Lastu Anta (I Am Not You) by Syrian author Jekar Khourchid, published by AlHadaek Group (2018)
  • Ahlam An Akoun Khalat Asmant (I Dream of Being a Concrete Mixer) by Kuwaiti author Hussain Almutawaa, published by AlHadaek Group (2018)
  • Ayn Minqari? (Where is My Beak?) by Jordanian author and illustrator Yara Bamieh, published by Palestine Writing Workshop (2018)
The Nine Categories of the Award
  • Contribution to the Development of Nations
  • Children’s Literature (including young adult, or YA, titles)
  • Young Authors
  • Translation (either to or from Arabic)
  • Literature (including poetry, short stories, novels, biographies, playscripts, and more)
  • Literary and Art Criticism
  • Arab Culture in Other Languages
  • Publishing and Technology
  • Cultural Personality of the Year (contributing to the advancement of Arabic culture)

And as those unnamed jurors work over the books that have made it this far, we’re interested in the longlists in three categories which can be eligible for translation funding. The winning titles in children’s books and literature have translation funding.

And, as it happens, if the winner in the Young Author category is a work classified as literature or a children’s book, then it, too, can have funding for translation.

And here’s a video produced from the 2018 Sheikh Zayed Book Award ceremony:

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.