The Multaqa Prize for the Arabic Short Story announced Monday that the winner of its 5th edition is the “Circus of Delusional Animals” novel written by Anis Arafai (Morocco), and published by Dar Khoutout.
The Multaqa Prize for the Arabic Short Story is one of the most esteemed awards of its kind in the region, and it worth $20,000.
The winner was announced in a ceremony held under the sponsor of the American University of the Middle East (AUM). The Moroccan novelist was one of five shortlisted Arab storytellers including Al-Azhar Al-Zinad (Tunisia), Diaa Jubaili (Iraq), Mohamed Rafie (Egypt) and Yousef Damra (Jordan). The competition saw the participation of 241 writers from 23 countries.
Fahad al-Othman, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American University of the Middle East (AUM), said he is grateful for the turnout the 5th edition of the prize witnessed, adding that it indicates that Kuwait has marked a remarkable presence in the Arabic prizes landscape.
Othman noted that the Kuwaiti efforts have successfully emphasized the presence of the country as a supporter of Arabic creators and literary productions.
Dr. Abdullah Ibrahim, head of the prize’s jury, said the award-winning speech “should praise the winning work, and highlight its narrative and semantic value. The book met the highest writing standards and managed to rival 240 story collections.”
“The jury believed that this work would enrich the history of the prize, and would make its writer proud of widely accessing the readers. The book is characterized with a coherent style, fine language, and wide imagination. It features unexpected situations and stories that prompt deep thinking. The stories of the book defy the logic of the reader and disturb the reception habits emphasized by the traditional storytelling art,” he added.
“The winning novel, ‘Circus of Delusional Animals’ by Moroccan Anis Arafai, was inspired by the patience of the Moroccan people, and their creative thinking and writing skills,” he noted.
The winner receives $20,000 with a shield and a certificate, and each of the other four short-listed writers receive $5,000, with a shield and certificate as well.
The award was founded in October 2015 following a memorandum of understanding signed by the Cultural Forum, represented by its founder and director, writer Taleb al-Refai and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American University of the Middle East in Kuwait, with the aim to encourage and support Arab writers in the field of short stories.
After he received the prize, ARafai, born in Casablanca in 1976, said “my message to all the writer is to believe in their creative projects, and to use their works to express the world and existence.”
“In this book, I wanted to find my own metaphor, as international writers do. I wanted to create a picture of life and existence in a circus in which the roles are switched between man and animal. This circus ends with a big fire and ashes that are eventually sold by ash merchants,” he explained.
“It is a great honor to win this international award, in which many prominent Arabic writers partake,” he added.