ABU DHABI // Eight authors from across the Arab world are taking part in a writing workshop in the peaceful environment of Sir Baniyas Island. The writers, tapped by former judges from the International Prize for Arab Fiction (Ipaf) as some of the best new voices in Arab literature, began their retreat yesterday. The nine-day workshop, or nadwa, is being held on the island under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Deputy Prime Minister, and hosted by Ipaf, the Arab equivalent of the Booker Prize.
The writers will participate in one-on-one coaching sessions with the authors Inaam Kachachi of Iraq and Jabbour Douaihy of Lebanon. Both have been previously shortlisted for the Ipaf. In the evenings the writers will share their work with the rest of the group. By the end of the workshop, each is expected to have produced either a short story or a chapter of a novel at around 3,000 words. The works will be published in Arabic and English and considered for the Ipaf, now in its third year.
Peter Clark, an Ipaf trustee and cultural consultant leading the workshop, described the authors, who come from six countries, as "some of the most gifted writers of the emerging generation". Six of the eight were among the Beirut 39 - a group of 39 of the best Arab authors under age 39 - who were announced at the Frankfurt Book Fair last month. The Beirut 39 initiative, launched at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair in March, is a collaboration between the Hay Festival and Beirut World Capital of the Book 2009.
Nasser al Thahiri is the only Emirati participant and takes his place alongside three Egyptian authors, and one each from Sudan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. Jonathan Taylor, the chair of the Ipaf board of trustees, said: "The Ipaf has already achieved great success in recognising and rewarding Arabic writers of literary fiction and increasing their international readership. It is appropriate that the prize should also identify and encourage future writers of high quality and distinction. This is the purpose of the nadwa."
The International Prize for Arabic Fiction, which promotes new Arabic literature, is funded by the Emirates Foundation. The longlist for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2010 will be announced next Tuesday. @Email:email@example.com