(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The Night Mail, a novel by Lebanese author Hoda Barakat that describes the ordeal that refugees go through while fleeing war-ravaged countries, has won this year's Arabic fiction award.
Published by Dar Al Adab, The Night Mail was declared the 2019 winner of the 12th International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) in a ceremony held in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday night.
Barakat received her prize in addition to a $50,000 (Dh183,700) cash prize.
"I chose (the novel's) final form when scenes of migrants fleeing their countries had penetrated my imagination. Those people who have lost their homes and are scattered over the earth... They board boats of death and the world doesn't want to look at them, other than as an unwanted mass, or a virus threatening civilisation," Hoda Barakat said earlier after her book was shortlisted.
"At this time, we are seeing a regression in the humanitarian dimension of those civilisations, as countries protect themselves by closing their doors. This doesn't mean that I want Western countries to fling open their borders. I just wanted to listen to the lives of those wandering across the world. I hope that this novel, somehow or other, will have given voice to brittle lives, which are judged by others without understanding them or investigating what brought them to their current state."
The Night Mail tells the stories of letter writers. The letters are lost, like the people who have penned them, but each is linked to another and their fates are woven together, like those of their owners. The writers are foreigners, either immigrants by choice or forced by circumstance to leave their countries; exiled and homeless, orphans of their countries with fractured destinies. The novel's realm is - like the times we live in - one of deep questioning and ambiguity, where boundaries have been erased, and old places and homes lost forever.
Chair of Judges, Charafdine Majdouline, said after announcing the winner: "The Night Mail is a highly accomplished novel that stands out for its condensed economy of language, narrative structure, and capacity to convey the inner workings of human beings. Barakat succeeded in creatively innovating within the tradition to successfully convince the reader."