Algerian author Abdelouahab Aissaoui has won the 13th International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) with his novel “The Spartan Court.”
Backed by the UK’s Booker Prize Foundation, IPAF is financed by Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism.
“The Spartan Court” was chosen from a shortlist of six novels.
Aissaoui will receive $50,000 and funds will be provided to translate the book into English, the organizers said on their website.
The Spartan Court “invites the reader to gain a greater understanding of life under occupation and the different forms of resistance that grow against it,” said Muhsin al-Musawi, chair of the prize’s five-member judging panel.
“With its deep, historical narrative structure, the novel does not live in the past, but rather it challenges the reader to question present reality,” he added, in remarks published on the IPAF website.
Professor Yasir Suleiman CBE, Chair of the Board of Trustees, said: “The Spartan Court is a captivating tale, a tale of many voices, truths and falsehoods. It goes back in history to excavate the past and permeate the present with intertwined narratives that keep the reader glued to its enchanting characters and their tortuous fortunes.”
According to the organizers, the five other authors, from Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria will each receive $10,000.
They said one aim of the prize, conceived in Abu Dhabi in 2007, is to promote the translation of Arabic literature into English.
Published by Dar Mim, “The Spartan Court” is a historical novel that relates the power struggle between Ottoman and French colonial powers in Algeria at the start of the 19th century.
Born in the northern Algerian city of Djelfa in 1985, Aissaoui graduated in electromechanical engineering before devoting himself to writing, penning several books and receiving many awards.
Due to movement restrictions imposed by UAE authorities to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the winner was announced online.