(From left) IPAF Chair of Trustees Yasir Sulaiman, Shaikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, Tourism Development and Investment Company, and Shukri Al Mabkhout during the prize presentation ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Dubai: The Italian, written by Tunisian university administrator Shukri Al Mabkhout, is not banned in the UAE and is available in UAE book shops, said the distributor of the book on Thursday, denying reports about its ban in a western newspaper.

The book was never banned, but its release was delayed a wee bit -- that's all, said Tariq Al Khajah, owner of Zain Al Ma'ani, the distributors of The Italian.

The debut novel of Shukri Al Mabkhout has won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi. The Italian is the eighth winner of the $50,000 (Dh182,000) prize known as the 'Arabic Booker'.

According to the newspaper report, which quoted a manager of The Italian's publisher, the book has been banned for unknown reasons in the UAE.

"This is just not true. It is an exaggeration. I don't know from where they got this information. The Italian is very much available in the UAE," said Nabil Saleh of University Library in UAE.

Talking about the book earlier, Mourid Barghouti, IPAF judging chair, said: "The Italian brilliantly depicts the unrest both of the small world of its characters and the larger one of the nation”.