Hoda Barakat Has Won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction

Hoda Barakat, a visiting professor of Middle Eastern studies at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, has won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) for her novel The Night Mail. The IPAF is funded by the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi with support from the Booker Prize Foundation in London. It is one of the more prestigious literary prizes in the Arabic world.

The Night Mail tells the story of letters writers living in exile whose fates are interwoven. According to Charafdine Majdouline, chair of the IPAF judges, “The Night Mail is a highly accomplished novel that stands out for its condensed economy of language, narrative structure, and capacity to convey the inner workings of human beings. By choosing to use techniques well-known in novel writing, Barakat faced a challenge, but she succeeded in creatively innovating within the tradition to successfully convince the reader.”

“I was overjoyed when I heard that I had won this award,” said Professor Barakat. “Because I live in Europe and rarely go to Arab countries, I don’t meet many of my readers. Now a lot of people — not just highly cultivated and intellectual readers — will know about this novel. I have won other prizes and commendations, but this is the most popular, and will make the biggest difference.”

A native of Beiruit, Professor Barakat has led a successful career in journalism and academia. She is the author of a memoir, a book of short stories, two plays, and six novels, including The Stone of Laughter (1990), Disciplines of Passion (1993), The Tiller of Waters (2000), My Master and my Lover (2004), and The Kingdom of This Earth (2012). Her books have been published in over 14 languages. She is the recipient of the Ordre du Mérite from the French Presidency, Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres from the French Ministry of Culture, and the Amalfi Prize for Mediterranean Literature.

Professor Barakat is a graduate of the Lebanese University where she studied French literature.

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