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INTERNATIONAL PRIZE FOR ARABIC FICTION

The prize was awarded to Nasrallah for his novel “The Second War of the Dog” which tells the story of Rashid, who turns from being a political activist in opposition to the current regime to a materialistic, unscrupulous extremist. Speaking at the prize-giving ceremony, Ibrahim Al Saafin, the chair of the judges panel, described the novel as“a masterful vision of a dystopian future in a nameless country” He said it exposed the tendency towards brutality inherent in society, imagining a time where human and moral values had been discarded and anything was permissible, even the buying and selling of human souls. Professor Yasir Suleiman CBE, professor emeritus of Arabic studies at the university of Cambridge and the chair of the IPAF board of trustees, said the novel painted “a chilling picture of humanity in all its destructive potential. Without a moral compass, the protagonist lets go of the normal bounds that constrain human behaviour”

Ibrahim Nasrallah was born in 1954 to Palestinian parents who were uprooted from their land in 1948. He spent his childhood in the Alwehdat Palestinian refugee camp in Amman, Jordan and began his working life as a teacher in Saudi Arabia. After returning to Amman, he worked as a journalist and for the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation. Since 2006, he has been a full-time writer and acted as a mentor to emerging writers at IPAF’s writers’ workshops in 2014 and 2016.Four of his other novels and a volume of poetry have been translated into English. About “The Second War of the Dog” Nasrallah said he wrote the novel to “provoke the reader, to worry the reader, to even, sometimes, make them breathless” He described it as a “warning of what we could become in the future”

“The Second War of the Dog”was chosen by the IPAF judges panel from among 124 entries from 14 countries. Nasrallah was one of six shortlisted finalists. The five others were Amir Tag Elsir, Aziz Mohammed, Shahad Al Rawi, Walid Shurafa and Dima Wannous. Alongside chair, Ibrahim Al Saafin, a Jordanian academic, critic, poet, novelist and playwright, the 2018 judges panel comprised InamBioud, an Algerian academic, translator, novelist and poet; Jamal Mahjoub, a Sudanese-English writer and novelist; Mahmoud Shukair, a Palestinian short story writer and novelist; and Barbara Skubic, a Slovenian writer and translator.

The IPAF is run in association with the Booker Prize Foundation in London and sponsored by the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi.