Sheikh Zayed Book Award: A Call for 2022 Submissions

In News by Porter Anderson

The program opens its 16th prize cycle with a call for submissions in all nine of its categories, with translation funding available for some shortlisted titles.

In Abu Dhabi, at Qasr Al Watan, the United Arab Emirates’ Presidential Palace Library. Image: Sheikh Zayed Book Award winners’ ceremony video

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

Deadline for Submission: October 1
All nine of the categories of the 16th annual Sheikh Zayed Book Award in Abu Dhabi have opened for submissions today (June 15), with winners each to receive, as before, 750,000 United Arab Emirates dirhams (US$204,181).

Overall, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award is among the wealthiest portfolios and most influential publishing-related honors in the world, worth a total of 7 million dirhams (US$1.9 million). You can review its 2021  book category award winners in our coverage here.

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, the program surpassed its former records for those 2021 prizes, with a 23-percent increase of submissions totaling 2,349 nominations.

And of key importance to our internationalist audience, the program’s shortlisted titles benefit from translation funding as do winning titles, an expanded offering first used to enrich the program this year.  This expansion of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award Translation Grant for literary and children’s titles means that all shortlisted authors’ books in these categories are made available for translation through the award, to help get these singularly acclaimed Arabic works into other languages and territories.

So far, nine works from previous editions have been translated into five languages (German, French, English, Italian and Ukrainian), and including the 15th edition shortlisted titles, the award has this year made a new range of titles available for translation.

The full 2021 Sheikh Zayed Book Award ceremony is embedded for you below and runs just under 30 minutes:

Bin Tamim: ‘Disciplined Planning, Analysis and Foresight’

Dr. Ali Bin Tamim

In a statement issued today as he opens the new cycle’s submissions, Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, secretary-general of the Zayed Award and chair of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Center, is quoted, saying, “We now welcome submissions for the next edition of this prestigious literary prize, with the tributes of the 15th edition’s success still garnering attention in literary circles.

“We owe this success, not to chance or improvisation, but to our disciplined planning, analysis. and foresight to present the Sheikh Zayed Book Award to the world in a manner that fits its namesake, status, and position as a hub of creativity, culture, literature, translation and publishing.

“Held virtually or conventionally, the award has proved by way of example that it has earned the world’s respect and appreciation.”

Iman Mersal

Another comment comes from Iman Mersal, the 2021 winner in Literature for her creative nonfiction work Fee Athar Enayat Al-Zayyat (In the Footsteps of Enayat Al-Zayyat), published in 2019 by Al Kotob Khan Library.

“I am grateful to the Scientific Committee,” Mersal says, “for choosing a book that represents the relentless pursuit of individuality that’s often marginalized in Arab society.

“Literature is capable of shaping perceptions, honing personal and collective experiences and offering a glimpse into a world that’s far more just and humane and far more accepting of people’s right to choose and be different.”

Our interview with Mersal is here, from late last month during the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

Marina Warner

Dame Marina Warner won the award in 2013 in the category of Arabic Culture in Other Languages for Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights (Harvard University Press).

In today’s announcement we hear from her, saying that the Sheikh Zayed Book Award nourishes the academic community, as “less a trophy than a lavish bursary that allows the recipient to continue their adventures in understanding.

And the French-Lebanese author Amin Maalouf, winner of the 2016 Cultural Personality of the year, says, “In such difficult times, it’s more important than ever to focus on books and on cultural values.

“They alone can provide us with the moral compass we so desperately need to move on with our eyes wide open.”

Asma Bint Muqbel Bin Awad Al Ahmadi

And Asma Bint Muqbel Bin Awad Al Ahmadi, winner of the 2021 Young Author category for Eshkalyat Al Thaat Al Saredah Fee Al Rwayah Al Nesaayah Al Saudiah (The Problems of the Narrated Self in the Saudi Feminist Novel, 1999 to 2012: A Critical Study), is quoted, too, saying, “I’m grateful for the Award’s work in promoting hope, diligence, development and knowledge through openness to one another and through mutual recognition, regardless of national borders or titles or gender laying the foundation for a true human renaissance.”

One point award organizers are making today is that winning one of the Zayed awards can make big changes for recipients, as in the case of the 2020 winner in Publishing and Technology Banipal, which went on to launch the digital edition of Revista Banipal, the new Spanish-language evocation of the magazine.

The nine categories, of course, are:

  • Literature (including both fiction and poetry)
  • Young Author (for writers younger than 40)
  • Children’s Literature
  • Cultural Personality of the Year
  • Publishing and Technology
  • Arabic Culture in Other Languages
  • Translation (either to or from Arabic)
  • Literary and Art Criticism
  • Contribution to the Development of Nations

More information on making submissions can be found here. And more on the translation fund, with instructions on applying for funding, is here.

Image: Sheikh Zayed Book Award

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Sheikh Zayed Book Award is here, more on Arabic literature is here, and more on translation is here. More from us on publishing and book awards in the international industry is here. Publishing Perspectives is the media partner of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

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.