Ibrahim Al-Koni, Libyan writer and novelist, who has been named as the ‘Cultural Personality of the Year’ for the 42nd edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: The Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) has named Ibrahim Al-Koni, Libyan writer and novelist, as the ‘Cultural Personality of the Year’ for the 42nd edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF). The fair, which will open on November 1, will run till November 12. 

The authority said the honour is in recognition of his profound impact on both the Arab and global cultural and literary spheres and his invaluable contributions. Al-Koni’s exceptional efforts have enriched the literary world and has been instrumental in spotlighting Arab authors on the global stage, with his literary works being translated into over 40 languages, finding a place in the curricula of universities worldwide, including those in Europe, America, Japan, and beyond.

The choice of Al-Koni for this accolade aligns with SBA’s mission to celebrate distinguished individuals in the realms of thought, literature, history and the arts. These notable figures have not only enhanced the cultural heritage but have also created impactful works that have left a lasting imprint on both the Arab and global stages across a spectrum of literary and intellectual domains, the SBA said.

Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, CEO of SBA, said, “The authority believes that honouring cultural and literary figures is an important step in building the cultural identity of any civilisation and nation. Thanks to the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed AlQasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, the emirate has become a platform for honouring Arabs whose thought and literary contributions have become a cornerstone of literature and knowledge. This includes the Libyan writer and novelist Ibrahim Al-Koni, whose recognition today asserts the strength of literature, culture, and knowledge in presenting the Arab identity to the world’s cultures.

“This recognition introduces the younger Arab generations to a prominent figure who has a significant and influential presence in the Arab and global cultural scene. Al-Koni’s portfolio includes more than 80 books in the fields of novels, literary studies, criticism, linguistics, history, and politics, serving as a source of inspiration and pride for Arabs. They are a testament to his strength and ability to compete in the realms of knowledge and culture, earning high recognition as one of the most prominent influencers in the Arab cultural landscape and one of the most widely recognised Arab authors in the world.”

81 books in 40 languages

Al-Koni was born in Ghadames, Libya, in 1948. He is among the most prominent contemporary Arab novelists and has been a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature on several occasions. He obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in literary and critical sciences in 1977 from the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute in Moscow. He has worked in various journalistic and diplomatic roles around the world, with his most recent being a diplomatic advisor at the Libyan Embassy in Switzerland. Al-Koni is proficient in eight languages, including Tamasheq, Arabic, Russian, English, Polish, German, Spanish, and Latin.

The prolific Libyan writer has authored 81 books in various fields, and has been translated into more than 40 languages. He was selected by the French Lire Magazine as one of the top 50 contemporary world novelists, and received wide acclaim from cultural, critical, academic, and official circles around the globe. Al-Koni has received numerous regional and international awards, including the Sharjah Award for Arab Creativity in 2008.