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Monday 16 March 2009

Egyptian author Youssef Ziedan wins the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (Booker) for Beelzebub "Azazeel"

by SuzanAbrams

Captions: The only picture I could find on the web of Dr. Youssef Zeidan, who is the gentleman with glasses and clapping his hands, with friends on the far right. The picture was one of many to celebrate the Abdul- Rahman Badawi celebrations and copyright is held courtesy of the Manuscript Center.
The other picture from the Egyptian Coptic Church is taken from Copts.com.

London: Of the Arab world, Egypt may just stand closest to a literary renaissance just now. Beirut, Lebanon would probably follow suit with its electrifying set of diaspora writers sprouting up in the West and Tehran, Iran stays presently engaged with a monumental amount of literary translations, as a long list of work-in-progress projects that stretch back to the time of Confucious.

Last evening on the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, the Egyptian Professor, scholar and author, Youssef Ziedan won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, courtesy of the Man Booker, with "Azazeel" (Beelzebub), his best-selling novel which is said to have greatly angered the Egyptian Coptic Church.

Church elders turned hot under their collars defending a history held private to their present congregation and ancient records. Ziedan's story is said to have rebellously challenged their authority as the heirs of St. Mark the Apostle and the Church's exclusive claim to Egyptian history between the end of paganism and the arrival of Islam in 640AD. They decided that the author intended to destroy "authentic Christian doctrine".

Ziedan's plot takes place in Upper Egypt, Alexandria and is set in the 5th century. For his win, the author who has specialised in Islamic philosophy and Sufism, collects US$50,000 and an extra US$1,000, a token awarded to all in the shortlist.

An English translation of his work is also guaranteed. The Emirates Foundation funds the prize.

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