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Emirati novelist shortlisted for international prize

Sultan Al Ameemi’s novel was nominated for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2017

Image Credit: Courtesy: Sultan al ameemi
Sultan Al Ameemi
Gulf News

Dubai: An Emirati writer’s novel has been nominated for the first time for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2017 (IPAF), it was announced on Monday.

Sultan Al Ameemi’s book, One Room Is Not Enough, was listed among 16 novels in contention for the 2017 prize, which were chosen from 186 entries from 19 countries, all published within the last 12 months.

Al Ameemi, a published author of 19 books, including two novels, three short-story books and researches on folk culture, said it was a proud moment for him, especially that it was the first time an Emirati novel was shortlisted for the prize.

“The prize is international, and is one of the most prestigious prizes in novel writing. The fact that a novel from the UAE has made it to the longlist of novels shortlisted in the prize is an important moment. I hope it could be the beginning for more novels being nominated from the UAE,” he said.

Al Ameemi added that there are many great novelists in the UAE that deserve to be recognised internationally for their works.

“The UAE has strongly supported the literary scene and given writers opportunities to develop their talents further and become published writers. I believe this nomination is going to be the beginning for more Emirati writers to go international, and I hope it brings good luck for others.”

42-year-old Al Ameemi, working as a poetry academy manager in Abu Dhabi, said he began writing One Room is Not Enough in 2014 at an annual writing workshop for talented, emerging writers that is supported by the prize.

He said the fantasy story revolves around a man who wakes up only to find himself stuck in a closed room trying to figure out what could be happening with him.

Through a key hole he manages to see another person identical to him stuck in an adjacent room. “The main character will try to understand who the other person is and why is he so similar to him.”

The story continues with the main character trying to find a way out of the room and experiencing flashbacks from certain events in his life, he said. “At one point he understands that he could be under a spell and decides to write his memories in a diary. The story keeps unfolding and something surprising happens in the end.”

“I’m very excited for the next shortlisting, which will happen on February 16, and I wish all the authors best of luck,” he said.