The novel “Al Qafer’s Explosion” wins the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2023

Aya Hussain

  • Zahran Al Qasimi, the first Omani winner in the history of the award
  • The Stranger of the Quaver His Fourth Novel
  • The novel deals with the memory of the Aflaj, the agricultural system for irrigating orchards, associated with rural life in Oman

Today, the International Prize for Arabic Fiction announced the winning novel

The Deserter’s Stranger for the writer Zahran Al-Qasimi in the sixteenth session of the award for the year 2023. And issued by Dar Rashim, during an event organized in Abu Dhabi and broadcasted virtually. Accordingly, Zahran Al Qasimi received a cash prize of 50 one thousand US dollars, in addition to financing the translation of the novel into English, with the aim of promoting it at the global level. And achieve an increase in its sales.

Muhammad Al-Ash’ari, Chairman of the Jury, said: “The jury chose the novel The Explosion of the Quaker by Zahran Al-Qasimi to win the prize; Because she was interested in a new topic in modern fictional writing, which is the issue of water in its relationship to the natural environment and human life in difficult areas. The writer presented this subject to us through a continuous harmony between reality and myth, and he does so by building a tight narrative and transparent poetic language and by sculpting exciting characters who occupy a fundamental role in people’s lives and at the same time arouse their alienation and fear. The writer was able to bring us closer to an unfamiliar theater for the novel circulating in the Arab world, which is the theater of the valleys and aflaj in Oman and the influence of natural elements on man’s relationship with his surroundings and culture.”

In his turn, Yasser Suleiman, Chairman of the Award’s Board of Trustees, said The International for Arabic Fiction: “The novel The Quaffer’s Westernization stems from the womb of its rural Omani environment, which lives its life in a rhythm dominated by water, with the dangers of scarcity and overflowing that does not escape. This novel coexists with the character of the deserter, who was pulled as a newborn from the womb of the water, and lived his life observing his paths in the fossils of the earth in a society in which myths nest that he uses to probe his relationship with his environmental and human surroundings. This novel is distinguished by its flowing narration, the flow of water, with its poetic rhythm, which is covered with sweetness and grace, which carried in its folds a sweet locality that coexists with the eloquence of the narration in harmony.”

The events of the novel take place in an Omani village and tell the story of Salem bin Abdullah, one of the trackers. Water, which villages use in their search for groundwater sources. The events of the novel take place in the world of aflaj, the agricultural system for irrigating orchards, which is closely linked to village life in Oman and around which stories and legends revolve. The writer poses an important question to the reader: What if this substance that gives life to beings is also a source of their death through its scarcity or flood? The life of the caravan since his birth was linked to water, his mother died by drowning, and his father was buried under the canal of one of the aflaj where the roof collapsed on him, and the caravan ends up imprisoned in the canal of one of the aflaj to stay there fighting to stay alive. The Stranger of the Quarrel A novel that restores to the narrator his first job, which is to water people and satisfy their thirst.

Zahran Al-Qasimi spoke in an interview published on the award’s website The universality of the Arabic novel, referring to the strong female presence in his novel: “Historically, women are the ones who humanized humans, who initiated the civilizational transformation and in agriculture, and were the cause of many important historical transformations. It is also the cause of the transformations that occurred in the main character in the novel. . He published three novels before Al-Qafir’s Expatriation , which is “Jabal Al-Shu’a” (2013)), “The Sniper” (2013), and “Honey Hunger” (2013), In addition to ten collections of poetry, “Sirat Al-Hijr 1 (short stories, 50) and “Sirat Al-Hijr 2” (texts, 2011.

Al-Qasimi is the first Omani novelist to win the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, and the novel is published by Dar Rasham in Saudi Arabia.

The novel The Caveman’s Strangeness was selected by the jury from among the novels nominated for the award for this session as the best novel published between July 1 2021 and 30 June 2022, and it took place Selected from six shortlisted novels by writers from Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Oman, Libya, and Egypt. Where the writers who were nominated for the short list were Al-Siddiq Haj Ahmed, Azhar Zarzis, Najwa Bin Shatwan, Miral Al-Tahawy, Fatima Abdel-Hamid, and Zahran Al-Qasimi. The six nominees received a prize of ten thousand US dollars.

The winning novel was selected by a jury consisting of five members, headed by the Moroccan writer and novelist Mohamed Al-Ashari

, with the membership of Reem Bassiouni , an Egyptian academic and novelist; TITZ ROCK , Swedish university professor and translator; Aziza Al Tai, an Omani writer and academic; And Fadela Farouk , an Algerian novelist, researcher and journalist.