Banned book up for a literary prize!
“In Praise of Hate”, a book that is banned in its own country has become a leading contender for a new literary prize (the “Arabic Booker Prize”) that aims to encourage wider reading of novels written in Arabic. The said book has been banned since it was published last year. It is written by the award-winning Syrian scriptwriter and novelist Khaled Khalifa, and the novel is set in Syria in the year 1982.
The story of “In Praise of Hate” centers around the army’s brutal shelling of Hama, where opposition groups were fighting the late President Hafez al-Assad. Khalifa describes himself as staunchly secular, and has said that the novel attacks political ideologies based on religion: “There is fierce and direct criticism of sectarianism which produces the culture of hatred.”
The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is run in association with the Booker Prize foundation and is funded largely by the Abu Dhabi Emirates Foundation. None of the shortlist, announced this week, has been translated into another language, and Sigrid Rausing, owner of Granta, has agreed to fund an English translation of the winner. The other shortlisted titles are The Land of Purgatory by Elias Farjouh, Walking in the Dust by May Menassa, Swan Song by Mekkaoui Said and Sunset Oasis by Baha Taher. The winner will be announced on March 10.