Dystopian Palestinian Novel Wins 2018 Arabic Book Prize

Ibrahim Nasrallah and his award-winning novel 'The Second War of the Dog'. (Photo: via: Twitter)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

Palestinian-Jordanian novelist Ibrahim Nasrallah won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) with a novel about humanity’s capacity for savagery.

“The Second War of the Dog” was announced as the winner on Tuesday at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi.

Classified as of dystopian literature, the book tells the story of an opponent of a regime who descends into brutal nihilism.

The author commented on his book by saying: it is

“a warning message of what, I think, the future could hold for us in light of what we have lived and are still living in recent years.”

The chair of the judging panel, Ibrahim al-Saafin said:

“This novel addresses the idea of transformed society and reality in a manner that incites wonder and imagination, and associates with the science fiction novel, focusing on the distortions of society and the emergence of brutalism, where the lives of people are traded off for the decline of moral and human values.”

Nasrallah’s was among a shortlist of six books, which were selected out of 124 entries from 14 countries participating in the competition. The award is affiliated with Britain’s Man Booker Prize.

The Palestinian Ministry of Culture said in a statement:

“Ibrahim Nasrallah’s winning of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction this year, which marks the 70th anniversary on Nakba, is telling of how unbeatable creativity of its all forms is to all attempts of cultural obliteration and exclusion exercised by the [Israeli] occupation for decades.”


This is the second time a participant from Palestine wins the Arabic book prize, which has been running for the 11th year since its inception in the gulf state. Palestinian author Rabai al-Madhoun’s “Destinies: Concerto of the Holocaust and Nakba” was named for it in 2016.

The ministry statement added:

“That Palestinian novel stands apart for the second year emphasizes that literature can be an essential platform for Palestinian rights’ expression; it points to the Palestinians’ celebration of life, of which arts and humanities are the finest manifestations, and to the fact that literary excellence is an action to sustain resilience; it is resistance in itself.”

Minister of Culture, Ihab Bseiso, applauded the success:

“Any creative work that achieves Arab or international acclamation constitutes a continuation of the national narrative,”

He stressed that,

“the biggest challenge for the Palestinian creative is to preserve the cultural identity so as to stand up to the narrative of occupier and to the intellectual works that aim at distorting the image of the intellectual Palestinian movement.”

Born in Amman 1952, award-winning Nasrallah grew up in the Al-Wihdat refugee camp with his parents who survived the 1948 Nakba. He wrote several well-acclaimed and translated poetry and novels and short stories including “Time of White Horses” (2007), which was shortlisted for the IPAF award in 2009, and “The Lanterns of the King of Galilee” (2011).


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