The 2021 Arab Literature Prize, the only French award recognizing Arab literary creation, was awarded to the Omani author Jokha Alharthi for her novel “Les Corps Célestes” published by Stéphane Marsan.
The jury, made up of personalities from the world of arts and culture as well as specialists from the Arab world, praised “a captivating and poetic novel which allows to discover an Omani society in full change, as well as the living conditions and aspirations of its population. Although it is anchored in Omani reality, this book speaks for all humanity and addresses the universal, ”says the IMA on its website.
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The jury also underlined “the remarkable literary quality of Khaled Osman’s translation which masterfully succeeds in conveying the spirit of the work”.
In a statement, IMA President Jack Lang recalled the uniqueness of the Prize and its essential role as “a sounding board for writers who bear witness to the extraordinary vitality of contemporary Arab literature”.
Jokha Alharthi succeeds Sudanese writer Abdelaziz Baraka Sakin who received the Arab Literature Prize in 2020 for his novel Les Jango (Zulma) translated from Arabic by Xavier Luffin.
The Omani author is thus in the line of talented authors who have been awarded the Prize for Arabic Literature, like Jabbour Douaihy, the first winner of the Prize in 2013. Awarded for his novel Saint Georges looked elsewhere (Actes Sud), he died on July 23 in Lebanon, leaving behind an important fictional work.
Jokha Alharthi was born in 1978 in Oman. She is a professor in the Arabic department at Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat. She was educated in Oman and the UK, where she obtained a PhD in Classical Arabic Literature at the University of Edinburgh.
In 2019, her novel “The Celestial Bodies” became the first Arabic-language novel awarded the International Booker Prize and the first novel by an Omani author translated into English.
“I am happy to know that my novel will help promote awareness of Arabic literature and more particularly Omani literature (which itself is not always put forward within Arabic literature), in the French language. I hope this can encourage readers, whether or not they are familiar with Omani and Arab writers, to delve into the fascinating world of Arabic literature, ”said Jokha Alharthi.
Created in 2013 by the Institut du monde arabe (IMA) and the Jean-Luc Lagardère Foundation, the Arab Literature Prize is one of the rare French awards distinguishing Arab literary creation. The Prize promotes the work of a writer from the Arab League and author of a work written or translated into French.
“To promote and disseminate Arabic literature in France at the height of the literary re-entry, such is the desire of the founders of this prize, which is also part of the fundamental work carried out by the IMA, more broadly, on this subject. , notably with its Literary Meetings and its Night of Poetry, ”underlines the IMA.
As a reminder, Moroccan Leïla Bahsaïn was in the running for the 2021 edition of this Prize with her novel “The theory of aubergines”. Winner of the Tangier News Prize 2011 and the Mediterranean Prize for the first novel, Leïla Bahsaïn was selected for the official selection of the Arab Literature Prize in 2019 with her first novel “Le Ciel sous nos pas” published by Albin Michel.
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Omani writer Jokha Alharthi wins Arab World Institute award, H24info