The Sheikh Zayed Book Award in Arabic Literature: The 2020 Literature Longlist

In News by Porter Anderson

The 2020 longlist for the Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s category in literature features work by authors from Iraq, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Tunisia.

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

Eleven Novels, Two Works of Poetry

In mid-December we published the 2020 longlisted works for the Sheikh Zayed Book Award in these categories:

  • Translation
  • Contribution to the Development of Nations
  • Literary and Art Criticism
  • Young Authors
  • Children’s Literature

Today (January 6), we have the longlisted titles in the program’s Literature category, the winner of which, along with that of the Children’s Literature category, is eligible for translation funding from the award. Literature for 2020 had 438 nominations, the second-largest entry pool of the categories, the first being Young Authors, which had 498 authors.

Sheikh Zayed Book Award 2020 Longlist: Literature

The longlisted novels:

  • Abna wa Ahtheya (Sons and Shoes) by Mohsen Al-Ramli of Iraq and Spain (Dar al-Mada, 2018)
  • Takecardia by Amir Taj al-Ser of Sudan (Hachette Antoine/Nofal, 2019)
  • Al Hai Al Hai by Ali Al-Shaali of the United Arab Emirates (Dar al-Louh, 2019)
  • Khata Gher Maqsoud (An Unintended Mistake) by Rashid Al-Daif of Lebanon (Dar al-Saqi, 2019)
  • Horob Al Rohama (Wars of Mercy) by Ibrahim Issa of Egypt (Al Karma Publishing, 2018)
  • Al Maktabah Al Sereya wa Al General (The Secret Library and the General) by Khairi Al-Dhahabi of Syria (Al-Ahliya Publishing, 2018)
  • Al-Karaki by Hassan Hamid of Palestine (Syrian General Authority for Books, ministry of culture, 2019)
  • Mr. Noon by Najwa Barakat of Lebanon (Dar Al Adab Publishing and Distribution, 2019)
  • Hay Al Dahsha (The Neighborhood of Astonishment) by Maha Hassan of Syria and France (Mamdouh Adwan Publishing and Distribution House with Sard Publishing, 2018)
  • Ma’wa Al Gheyab (Shelter of Absence) by Mansoura Ezzedine of Egypt (Mamdouh Adwan Publishing and Distribution House with Sard Publishing, 2018)
  • Arwah Sakhrat Al Asal (Souls of Honey Rocks) by Mamdouh Azzam of Syria (Mamdouh Adwan Publishing and Distribution House with Sard Publishing, 2018)

Two poetic works:

  • Belkas ma Qabl Al Akheera (The Penultimate Cup) by Moncef Al-Wahaibi of Tunisia (Meskeliani Publishing and Distribution, 2019)
  • Althe’b wa ma Akhfa (Taleh Rashaeya: Al Ghazalah wa Al Zelzal) (The Wolf and What It Hid) by Youssef Razuka of Tunisia (Zainab Publishing House, 2017)
The Scope of the Zayed Award

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, with a purse of 750,000 UAE dirhams (US$204,181) in each of the eight book categories, the Sheikh Zayed program additionally offers 1 million dirhams (US$272,242) to the winner of its Cultural Personality of the Year honor. In every case, a winner is also given a gold medal with the award program’s logo and a certificate of merit.

Under the direction of Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, secretary-general of the award program, 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.

Last year’s total 117 titles longlisted in the program’s nine categories were drawn from 382 initial nominations. This year, as we’ve reported, the selection process began with an impressive 1,900 nominations from 49 nations.

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 2020 prize shortlists are to be announced in March, and the winners will be announced shortly before the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, scheduled for April 15 to 21.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Sheikh Zayed Book Award is here, more on Arabic literature is here, more on translation is here, and more on children’s books is here. Publishing Perspectives is the media partner of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award.

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 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.