Saudi writer Abdo Khal win of this year’s International Prize for Arabic Fiction reflects the vitality of Saudi culture, according to Dr. Abdul Aziz Khoja, the Minister of Culture and Information, who has heaped praise on the novelist for winning the $50,000 award.
He said he was filled with pride at Khal’s win for his novel “Spewing Sparks as Big as Castles” adding that Khal is already a big name on the Saudi cultural scene.
He described Khal as an ambassador for creativity and innovation and praised him for his remarkable literary achievements. He said the Kingdom takes pride in his win and wishes him more success regionally and internationally. Khoja said the ministry will honor all creative Saudis who contribute to Saudi, regional and global culture.
Several people have praised Khal’s work for touching on the concerns of ordinary people. He has projected the lives of people in a philosophical way, reflecting his ability to delve deep into the human soul, said one observer.
Most of the Arabic press carried news of Khal’s win. The Lebanese Al-Akhbar Newspaper published an article entitled “Saudi author scoops Arab Booker.”
Other authors on the shortlist were Rabai Al-Mahdhoun for the “Lady of Tel Aviv,” Mnsoura Ez Eldin for “Beyond Paradise,” Rabee Jaber for “America,” Muhammad Mansi for “Cloudy Day on the West Side” and Jamal Naji for “When the Wolves Grow Old.”
The prize is known as the Arab Booker because the Booker Prize Foundation for English literature supports the award. Shortlisted authors receive $10,000. The winner takes home an extra $50,000.
It is expected that Khal’s work may now be published by other publishing houses across the world because it is associated with the Booker.
Writer Taleb Al-Refai, the Head of the jury panel said the judges had dealt with the novels entered in a fair and neutral manner. The jury considered 113 novels from 17 countries.
Abdo Khal, who is a columnist at Okaz, was born in 1962 in Al-Majan, a town in the southern part of the Kingdom. He resides in Jeddah. – Okaz/SG