Rewriting the game: The 10 most inspiring Arab writers of 2020

From children's books to award-winning poetry, whose prose particularly sparkled this year?

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While 2020 has been a challenging year, many people found solace in the written word, seeking out comfort and distraction from the pandemic among the pages of a gripping read.

From children's books to award-winning poetry, here, we take a look at some of the Arab writers who have rightfully been acknowledged for their work this year.

This is the second in The National's series of 50 Arab stars, including filmmakers, artists and musicians, of 2020.

Abdelouahab Aissaoui

The Algerian writer was recognised for his historical novel The Spartan Court this year, which won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF). With the win, Aissaoui became the first person from Algeria to claim the award, which is considered the Arab world's top fiction prize.

Abdelaziz Baraka Sakin

The Sudanese writer, whose work used to be banned in his native country, received the 2020 Arab Literature Prize, awarded by the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. His book The Jungo: Stakes of the Earth, published in Arabic, has been also translated into French.

Amin Maalouf

The French-Lebanese author was awarded the National Order of Merit in France in March. Considered one of the most influential Arab writers of our time, he is known for mixing historical events with fiction. In September, his book Adrift: How Our World Lost Its Way, translated by Frank Wynne, was released.

Ibtisam Barakat

The Palestinian-American author and poet won the children's literature gong at the 2020 Sheikh Zayed Book Award. Her book Al Fatat Al Lialakia (The Lilac Girl) is about a young Palestinian girl who loves to paint but has lost her home due to war.

Lama Bazzari and Farrah Abuasad 

Lama Bazzari and her daughter, Farrah Abuasad, co-authored Craving Palestine, a non-profit cookbook that celebrates Palestinian cuisine, co-curated by Palestinian chef Fadi Kattan. Published in the US but shipping globally, the book has been endorsed by celebrities around the world including Mohamed Hadid.

Malaka Gharib

The Egyptian-Filipino encapsulated her Arab-American experience in the graphic memoir, I Was Their American Dream. Gharib, who is also a journalist, won the 2020 Arab American Book Award in the young adult and children's category for the work.

Massoud Hayoun

The Arab-American author reclaimed his identity in his debut book When We Were Arabs: A Jewish Family's Forgotten History. The family memoir, which was released last year, won Hayoun the Evelyn Shakir Non-Fiction Award at this year's Arab American Book Awards.

Moncef Ouhaibi

The Tunisian writer and professor of Arabic literature won the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for Literature for Belkas ma Qabl Al Akheera (The Penultimate Cup). This marked the first time the award was given to a work of poetry, in which Ouhaibi explores the position Tunisia occupies within the Mediterranean.

Nadine Kaadan

After winning the The Arab British Centre Award for Culture last year, the children's book author and illustrator from Syria was nominated for the Asian Women of Achievement Award 2020. In November, she was featured on the BBC's 100 Women list of the most inspiring and influential women from around the world. Her most recent illustrations feature on Saving Stella: A Dog's Dramatic Escape from War by Bassel Abou Fakher and Deborah Blumenthal.