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The Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi wins International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2013

Posted on 24 April 2013 by Alice

Tuesday 23 April 2013: The Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi has been announced as the winner of the sixth International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

The winner was named by this year’s Chair of Judges, the Egyptian writer and academic Galal Amin, at a prize ceremony in Abu Dhabi. In addition to winning $50,000, Alsanousi is guaranteed an English translation of his novel, as well as increased book sales and international recognition.

A daring work which looks objectively at the phenomenon of foreign workers in Gulf countries, The Bamboo Stalk is the story of Issa, the son of a Kuwaiti father and a Filipino mother.

On returning to his father’s homeland as an adult, Issa finds himself in a difficult position. Rather than the mythical country his mother has described to him, he discovers he is caught between the natural, biological ties he shares with his father’s family and the prejudices of a traditional society, which views a child of Kuwaiti-Filipino heritage as socially unacceptable. Skilfully constructed, The Bamboo Stalk is a story of great strength and depth which questions identity in modern society.

Born in 1981, Alsanousi is the youngest writer to win the Prize. The Bamboo Stickis his second novel; his first, Prisoner of Mirrors, was published in 2010.

The Bamboo Stalk has been chosen as the best work of fiction from the last 12 months, selected from 133 submissions from across the Arab World. On behalf of the 2013 Judging Panel, Galal Amin comments on the winning novel:

‘‘The members of the Judging Panel are delighted that The Bamboo Stalk has won the Prize. All the Judges agreed on the superior quality of this novel, both artistically and also in terms of its social and humanitarian content.’

The five other shortlisted finalists were also honoured at the ceremony alongside the winner; each of the finalists, including the winner, receives $10,000.

The six names on the shortlist were announced in January, in Tunis, by a distinguished panel of academics and cultural figures. Chaired by Galal Amin, the Judging Panel is: Lebanese academic and critic Sobhi al-Boustani; Ali Ferzat, who is head of the Arab Cartoonists’ Association, and owner and chief editor of the independent Syrian daily newspaper Al-Domari; Polish academic and Professor of Arabic Literature at the Arts College of the Jagiellonian University of Cracow, Barbara Michalak-Pikulska, and Professor Zahia Smail Salhi, specialist in Arabic Literature Classical and Modern and Gender Studies at Manchester University.

The Prize is supported by the Booker Prize Foundation in London and funded by the TCA Abu Dhabi in the UAE, which marks its first year as the new sponsor of the Prize in 2013.

Jonathan Taylor, Chair of the Board of IPAF Trustees, comments: ‘The Prize has a history of discovering new voices and we’ve done that again this year. The Judges have been working without fear or favour with their sole objective to identify the best of Arabic fiction published over the last year. We salute a distinguished shortlist and congratulate an outstanding winner.’

To date, five of the six winning novels have secured deals for publication in English. Overall, winning and shortlisted books since 2008 have been translated into over 20 languages.




The 2013 winner announcement took place on the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2013. Saud Alsanousi will take part in his first public event at the book fair on Wednesday 24 April, and there will also be a series of talks held with some of the shortlisted finalists. Details as follows:


Meet the Winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2013

Date: Wednesday 24 April

Venue: Discussion Sofa

Time: 7-8pm

Host: Dr Maan Al Taie


Live Book Club

Sinan Antoon talks about “Ave Maria” with Al Raweyat

Date: Wednesday 24 April

Venue: The Tent

Time: 17:30 – 18:30


Ibrahim Issa on how to write and how to read after the Arab Spring
Date: 25 April

Venue: Discussion Sofa

Time: 19:00 – 20:00

Host: Mohamed Mazrouei


Live Book Club
Kutub Bilarabi and Iqraa Arabic Book Group discuss The Beaver with Mohamed Hassan Alwan
Date: 25 April

Venue: GCC stage

Time: 17:30 – 18:30

Further information on the above events, as well as additional events with IPAF authors at the fair, can be found on the book fair’s website:

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