London – “A Small Death” by the Saudi author Mohammed Hasan Alwan was named the winner of the 10th International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF).
In a ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, Alwan received the $50,000 International prize for Arabic fiction for “A Small Death”, his fictional account of the life of Sunni scholar Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi.
The novel follows the scholar from his birth in Andalusia in 1165 to his death in Damascus in 1240, and his reflections on the violence witnesses in Morocco, Egypt, the Hejaz (now part of Saudi Arabia), Syria, Iraq and Turkey.
Alwan was born in Riyadh in 1979. He currently lives in Toronto, Canada.
The author has five novels, including “Saqf Elkefaya” (2002), “Sophia” (2004), “Tawq Altahara” (2007), “Al-Qundus” (2011), and “Al Mawt al-Saghir” (A Small Death) (2016).
In 2013, his novel, “Al-Qundus” (The Beaver), was shortlisted in IPAF. In 2015, the Saudi author won the Arab World Institute’s Prix de la Littérature Arabe for the same novel.
In 2010, Alwan was chosen as one of the 39 best Arab authors under the age of 40 by the Beirut39 project.
Chair of judges Sahar Khalifeh said of “A Small Death”: “With striking artistry and in captivating language, it sheds light on Ibn ‘Arabi’s view of spiritual and temporal love in their most refined forms.”
IPAF aims to support Arab authors by providing additional funding for an English translation of the winner each year.
The Guardian said that thirty-three of the prize’s winning and shortlisted novels have been translated into 24 languages over the last decade.
Alwan obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Information Systems from King Saud University in 2002, followed by an MBA from the University of Portland, Oregon in 2008 and Ph.D from Carleton University, Ottawa in 2016, according to his website.