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Two Katara Prize 2020 winners: Yemen is a buried land of talent

The Katara Prize for Arabic Fiction, in its sixth session (2020), the results of which was announced last Tuesday in Doha, held two prizes for Yemen afflicted by a futile war in its sixth consecutive year, prompting Yemeni activists and writers to restore a ray of hope on social media platforms and bet on creativity despite the moment’s data. The storm.

With the victory of the Yemeni novelist Naguib Nasr, in the category of unpublished novels about his novel “Half a Human”, a first prize was registered for Yemen in this particular category, but it is the fourth prize in the overall award categories. The critic and academic Abd al-Hamid al-Husami began to receive the prize for the critical studies category in the third session. 2017, for his critical study “The Representation of Ibn Arabi in the Fictional Fiction”.

In the category of studies dealing with fictional research and criticism, a second prize was added to Yemen. The Yemeni critic and academic Alawi Ahmed Saleh Al-Majami won for his study “The Cultural Construction of the Fictional World: Semiotics of the Possible World in the Novel Land of Happy Plots of My Grandfather Al-Ahdal”, thus becoming the fourth prize for Yemen that was crowned Last year 2019 (in the fifth edition of Katara), the novelist Professor Habib Abdel-Rab Sorouri (residing in France) won the prize for Arabic novels published for his novel “Wahi”.

Big and prestigious

In an exclusive interview with Al-Jazeera Net, critic and academic Alawi Al-Maljami, winner of the 2020 Katara Prize in the Research and Fictional Criticism category, said that the Katara Award is one of the most prestigious and distinguished awards in the field of Arabic fiction, its study and criticism, expressing his great happiness at winning one of its prizes.

In the context of his speech, Al-Majami revealed that since he heard the Katara Award, he has been longing for the moment that he will be crowned. Indeed, he put it within his plans, until the moment came when he saw that he had accomplished a work in the field of fictional criticism worthy of participation, and worthy of Katara, so he pushed it to the award committee, so that the news he deserves to come. Here, Al-Majami says, “I was very pleased with the victory of my critical studies. I am proud of my work and proud of Katara.”

Alawi added, “I was overwhelmed with happiness, I do not know how I ended the call, for victory was drunkenness and an ecstasy that could not be resisted by feelings. I was very happy, and I said to myself: The tiredness of the nights was not in vain, because if the book had not won, I would have printed it (as I did with previous books for me) in one of the roles. Publishing that does not appreciate your effort, and does not distinguish between the rickety and fatness of the publication. “

I expected to win

In response to Al-Jazeera Net’s question, “Did you expect to win the Katara Prize?”, Al-Majami says: Yes, I was expecting to win a large percentage, “because I presented a study that I worked hard for, and it was new in its principles, objectives, theoretical background, and application mechanisms.” However, I knew The competition is difficult in a big Arab prize that every Arab critic aspires to be crowned.

The study of Al-Amaljami winning in Katara consists of an introduction and 3 chapters. In the preface, the researcher deals with the theory of the possible world as it is in modern semiotics, especially in the semiotic “Umberto Eco” project, while the first chapter “in his first topic” includes an approach to the world of tale possible in the novel, starting with General features such as major issues, the issue of the possible in the possible or the virtual world in the world of story, and the issue of construction and naming.

A possible world and a referential post

The “second topic” deals with how the novel, “The Land of Happy Plots of Yemenis and My Grandfather Al-Ahdal,” recently published, defines the objects and individuals within the novel world, divided into 3 structures: the structure of things, the structure of individuals, and the structure of place. As for the “third topic”, it defines the relationship between the possible world of narration and the reference world.

The novel “Happy Land of Plots” by the Yemeni writer Wajdi Al-Ahdal (Al-Jazeera)

The researcher divided the second chapter, “Possible worlds of the novel’s characters” into 3 sections. In the first section, he dealt with the necessary and contingent characteristics of the characters’ worlds, and in the second section he made investigative comparisons between the worlds of possible characters and the world of the story, and in the third section he dealt with the realms of second-order possible characters.

The third chapter, “Possible Worlds for the Reciter”, came in an introduction and two papers. The first section dealt with the reader’s expectations, and approaching comparisons between the reader’s possible worlds on the one hand, and the world of the story and the world of characters on the other hand. The second topic is devoted to the chapter ending as a chapter different in its furnishing from the other chapters of the novel, and as an example of the multiplicity of the possible reader’s worlds.

The study concludes in its most important results 3 cases – which are basically the basis for any fictional construct – related to the narrative world in its relationship to the reference world: the first is an asymmetric binary relationship, meaning that the reference world belongs to the narrative world, the second is a non-bilateral relationship, and the third is an analog relationship.


Al-Majami holds a PhD in Rhetoric and Literary Criticism from the Faculty of Arts, Sohag University, Egypt (where he currently resides), on the subject of “The Semiotics of Reading: A Study in the Commentaries of Al-Mutanabi Diwan in the Seventh Hijri Century”, and before that he had obtained a master’s degree in 2016 with excellent grades from the same college , On the topic “The suggestive meaning between the Arab critical heritage and modern semiotics.” And by winning his critical study “The Cultural Construction of the Fictional World: Anemias of the Possible World in the Novel The Land of Happy Plots of My Grandfather Al-Ahdal”, at one of the Katara Awards this year, the critical action in his interests is further enhanced.

I felt my wish

In light of the state of despair and stalemate that Yemen is currently experiencing due to war and isolation, Al-Majami says that he has never felt that he is a Yemeni as he did on the eve of announcing his winning of the Katara Award.

Al-Majami concluded by saying that Yemen is full of buried talents, as Yemenis “continues to look at the summit, perhaps finding a soul from Yemen fluttering there.”

The study of the Al-Malami researcher devoted to approaching the worlds of the novel “The Land of Happy Plots” by my grandfather Al-Ahdal represents a new and qualitative addition to his critical publications package, including: the suggestive meaning between the Arab critical heritage and modern semiotics of 2017, writing on the margins of the future – Diwan poetry – 2017, and the dissolution of ISIS discourse: Profound Structures and Structures of Meaning 2019, and Modern Semiotics: A theoretical introduction and applied studies (in press), as well as refereed scientific research published in succession.

Diwan “Writing on the Margin of the Future” by Yemeni critic and writer Alawi Al-Maljami (Al-Jazeera)

Naguib Nasr: An important push

For his part, Yemeni novelist Naguib Nasr, winner of the Katara Prize this season, in the category of unpublished novels, said that the general impression of any writer who wins a literary prize, whatever it is, is a catalyst and an encouragement to continue and continue his work, but that “the award should be the size of a Katara because of its literary value. And cultural, this makes happiness doubled, especially for a young man who has never published a novel before and does not have a prominent presence in the literary and cultural arena. “

Nasr, who is currently residing in Granada, Spain, affirms that the manuscript of his first novel, “Half a Human”, won the Katara Prize, “an important boost, and the dream of all writers,” he says.

Naguib Nasr is also a critic and academic, who holds a doctorate in Arabic language, specializing in grammar and linguistics from the University of Sidi Mohamed bin Abdullah-Fez, Morocco, July 2018, and before that he had completed his master’s degree in the same specialty and the same university in 2012.

And about the moments he received the news of winning the award, Nasr explained He received a call from the award management while he was in an academy to learn Spanish. “The phone was silent, but it was in front of me on the table, I asked the professor and went out to answer. In fact, the news was surprising to me. The victory in itself was not expected, the competition is fierce, and the number of participants in The category of unpublished novels exceeded a thousand. The percentage of winning in this case is almost impossible, perhaps one in a thousand, and this is a very small percentage. Therefore, I am very happy with the award. “

Half a human being

Speaking of the circumstances of his writing of his novel crowned by Katara 2020, Naguib Nasr draws attention to the fact that he had in mind another novel he wanted to write since 2016 when he was a doctoral student in the Kingdom of Morocco, “I outlined it and then left it because of study and scientific research concerns.”

He added, “On the other hand, there were other events that attracted me to write it, so I assigned a word file to it on the computer. I used to write small stories or regular articles from time to time and leave them … I did not think that it will one day turn into a complete novel.”

He added, “Until the decisive moment came in 2019 when I learned of the announcement of the opening of the nomination period for the sixth edition of the Katara Prize, at that time I was hesitant between completing the first novel that I outlined, or converting events and short stories into a novel, so it was the last choice. Then I reopened the word file and read The stories and tales in it were expanded to a complete novel. “

Nasr added, ending his speech to Al-Jazeera Net, “The idea of ​​the novel was present, and more than half of the literary material was written, and because of the change in the atmosphere on me in Spain, the language, the culture, and the public and private appointments, the day was passing by the Academy of learning the Spanish language and other concerns. In the middle of the night, I was devoted to completing and arranging the novel. I did not even send it to the Katara Prize Committee until a week before participation was closed.

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