Tributes flow for award-winning Lebanese author and journalist May Menassa

Menassa was recently named as one of seven female authors on the longlist for the 2019 International Prize for Arabic Fiction

Lebanese author May Menassa has died at the age of 80. Courtesy International Prize for Arab Fiction. 

Celebrated Lebanese author May Menassa has died in Lebanon just two weeks after being included in the longlist for the 2019 International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

Menassa, 80, died in Beirut from an aneurysm on Saturday, according to Lebanon's French newspaper L'orient du Jour. 

The author was one of Lebanon's most prolific figures in fiction and a pioneering journalist of her time. She was also the sister of well-known Lebanese poet Venus Khoury-Ghata.

Menassa was born in Beirut in 1939, where she went on to pick up a postgraduate diploma in French literature. Her first career was in journalism in 1959; becoming the first female broadcast journalist in the early days of Lebanese television and the presenter of the "Women of Today" programme.

Her first foray into print came in the form of a role as a literary and music critic for Lebanese newspaper An Nahar in 1969, which she continued throughout her life.

Menassa's first novel, Pages from Notebooks of a Pomegranate Tree, was published in 1998. In the years since, she has published 10 novels, two children's books, and many works of translation - mainly from French to Arabic.  None of her works have been translated into English.

The longlist for the 2019 International Prize for Arabic Fiction was announced on January 7, and includes seven female authors, the highest number in the prize's history. Menassa was honoured for her novel I Killed My Mother in Order to Live, which tells the story of a young woman with autism, struggling to come to terms with a trauma from childhood.

It was Menassa's second time on the prize's longlist. Her fifth novel, Walking in the Dust, was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arab Fiction in 2008.

Since the news broke, tributes have been flowing in on social media.

Fans have heralded her as a "remarkable novelist and a beautiful soul", and a "huge loss for Lebanese and Arabic literature".


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