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Wednesday 11 March 2009

Literary news from Cairo

The young, charismatic Khaled al Khamis, Egyptian journalist and writer for the bestselling collection of short stories from the streets of Cairo, called Taxi, told us in a panel discussion at the Emirates International Festival for Literature in Dubai that ...

...the hot topic in literary circles in Egypt among poets and novelists was that one should refrain from accepting national literary awards for prizes as so much of this currently included the "sell-out of a writer's soul" i.e. with which to serve a politician or prominent businessman's individual needs. That of late, prizes were fashioned not exactly to reward excellence of work but as an agenda or mission to secure a benefactor's accolades or to heighten his prestige for agendas known only to higher tight-lipped circles. There is talk among Egyptian writers of staying together in solidarity and turning any future prizes down.