AMQF Announces Results of the Young Writers of the Year Award 2019 in the fields of poetry, novels and short stories
Ramallah (29 December 2019):
The A.M. Qattan Foundation (AMQF) announced the results of the Young Writer of the Year Award (YWYA) 2019 in the fields of poetry, novels and short stories.
In the poetry category, the prize was awarded equally to Taghreed Abdelal (Tripoli, Lebanon) for her collection “The Grass Between Two Paths” and to Ameer Omar Hasan Hamad (Jerusalem) for his collection “I Searched for Their Keys in the Locks.” Hamad was also awarded the short story prize for his collection “Jiji and Ali’s Rabbit.” In the novel category, the prize was awarded for Mwaffaq Abu Hamdieh from Hebron for his novel Bitter Grapes.
The jury comprised of the writer and poet Zakaria Mohammad, the poet Qusai Allabadi, and the poet Dalia Taha. They considered 32 collections by young Palestinian writers from throughout historic Palestine and in exile.
In their statement, the jury said that Taghreed Abdelal’s collection, “The Grass Between Two Paths,” “provides a mature poetic experience, with a smooth, deep language, and images that are soft and smart with simplicity and austerity, without chatter. The poet can still raise her poetry to higher levels.”
The jury added:
It is a beautiful and amazing collection with its calmness and compassion. It depicts a tremendous poetic energy, the physics of fast moments. The poet offers us a world rich in detail and with everything that happens in the most still moments. There are incredible poems that reach out with lightness and simplicity emerging from complicated human depths. The poet possesses a very promising language and creates an exciting relationship with the world of nature: the sky, grasses, flowers, sound and air. . . . The world in her collection is broad, mysterious and beautiful. She is a distinguished poet who is able to confront the world and its heaviness with terrifying lightness, critical poetic pickups, and innovative language in concise meditative poems. She tries to reflect and name all that is not tangible, knowing that some of the poems bear excessive romanticism.
As for Ameer Omar Hassan Hamad’s collection “I Searched for Their Keys in the Locks,” the committee said:
. . . it is a special poetic world, distinctive, and different from a young poet who controls his world; The world of the past, grandmothers, mothers, sea and love, he extracts what he wants from this world without exhaustion. It may have some moments of literary dryness, but it soon glows again. There is no excess chatter, and there are no emotional exaggerations, but there is a moderation that leads to calmness and comfort. The language is sound, coherent and generally promising, and it emerges warm from experience. In short, this group is a unique experience.
The jury also made an honourable mention of the collection “The Story of the Lost Guard” by Kamel Mohammad Kamel Yassin (Nablus). The jury paid tribute to the following contributions with a recommendation to publish “All that is Faint and Far” by Alaa Maamoun Odeh (Tartus, Syria), the collection “House Play” by Hiba Bairat (New Jersey, United States) and the collection “A Hole in the Family Photo” by Ahmad Abu Awwad (Gaza).
The jury comprised of the writer and critic Ahmad Almedini (Morocco, France), the novelist and writer Mansoura Izz Aldin (Egypt), the novelist and writer Alaa Huleihel (Palestine) and the poet and writer Zakaria Mohammad (Palestine). The jury considered 27 novel drafts by young Palestinian writers from historic Palestine and in exile.
The jury described the first prize novel Bitter Grapes by Mwaffaq Abu Hamdieh as:
An artistically mature novel, the writer has mastered the narration in an exciting manner. He also has a wide knowledge of the subject. The relationships between the protagonists are presented with skill and softness, it reflects a deep knowledge of history, Hebrew literature, and the realities of the conflict; using strong language and a well-built narration despite sometimes tending towards directness in the dialogues and writer’s comments. . . . This novel falls into a narrative stream that has begun to take shape in the Arabic novel, describing the lives of Jews in Arab countries, and the schizophrenia that they are experiencing between two cultures and two situations, and in depth it depicts a situation of eradication they fell into due to Zionist propaganda, and in return it caused the uprooting of the Palestinian people from their land. This is an important aspect in monitoring the Palestinian issue and its history; it is smartly woven between the narrative and public presentation, with a documentary nature, in a brief and reporting language, and it is interspersed with some dialogues that give vitality and flow.
The Jury made an honourable mention for the novel draft The Broadcast by Fakhri Taha (Ramallah) and the novel draft Aljadeeda Road King by Sarah Abu Ghazal (Beirut).
The jury also paid tribute to the following contributions with a recommendation to publish, subject to the success of its writers in developing and strengthening the novels based on the notes of the jury members: The Children from There by Hanaa Osama Salman Ahmad (Gaza), January Birds by Omnia Abu Sweireh (Gaza) and When Flowers Cry by Mustafa Akram Mustafa Bader (Battir, Bethlehem).
Short Story Prize
The jury comprised of the writer and critic Ahmad Almedini (Morocco & France), the novelist and writer Mansoura Izz Aldin (Egypt) and the Novelist and writer Alaa Huleihel (Palestine). They considered 26 collections of short stories by young Palestinian writers from historic Palestine and in exile.
The jury mentioned that the collection “Jiji and Ali’s Rabbit” by Ameer Omar Hasan Hamad:
. . . had technical characteristics and subtle features combined with good possession of the tools of expression and storytelling, and an intelligent understanding of what works as a material for short stories, in addition to the fact that its writer strived in suggesting his own way and perspective to approach and formulate this material. This collection—the fruit of an emerging pen—predicts and promises great success in its field. . . . The first thing that attracts the reader’s attention, and represents an element of attraction in this work with its various stories, is that it narrates his tales, presents his characters, and monitors his environment and issues emerging from childhood, so everything seems to be fresh, simple, poetic and a source of excitement and curiosity. When the writer enacts the spirit of childhood, its prejudices and patents, with its discoveries and ambiguities, it pushes us to the horizon of adventure and expectation, so it draws the eyes to the visuals and the soul to the emotions. What is generated by the effort we see is gradually coming before us, with the specific description, the conjecture and the resulting reproduction of the images and the ideas drawn in an indicative position and words, expressing dazzling accuracy. The effect of strangeness is characteristic of more than one story in the collection, the thing that fits in harmony with the worlds and spirit of childhood that are not yet accustomed to the logic of reality.
The jury also indicated that:
the writer of this collection adopts the description as a first tool; either to draw the character or the environmental paintings, or to generate emotions, which is a required skill in the art of storytelling when combining the elements of narration and diagnosis, and is employed to build the story, deliver it and communicate its discourse. Its language is bright, accessible, it indicates what it aims for and wants without tinnitus and without dyes. The characteristic of simplicity is consistent with the description of childhood, and becomes dense and eloquent if you move to more complexity. . . . It is simply a distinguished and mature collection that foretells a remarkable talent from which we expect a lot in the future, as no story fails to raise surprise and the writer’s ability to diversify his worlds and their multiplicity, and his ability to form these diverse worlds with the same skill, revealing excellent and exceptional writing, and a unique style that includes sharp sarcasm, the intelligence to capture and the lightness of narration for Palestinian stories that tell the daily and the forgotten in the little details of life under occupation and under its shadow.
The jury made an honourable mention for the collection “I Was Killed in a Time Like This” by Shurooq Mohammad Dghmash (Gaza) and “What a Happy Luck Madame Barbara” by Hiba Baerat (New Jersey, United States).
The jury also paid tribute to the following contributions with a recommendation to publish: “I Am Forty and Half an Onion” by Alaa Mahmoud Odeh (Tartous, Syria) and “The Disappearing of Paparotti Tree” by Amer Naeem Almasri (Khan Younis, Gaza).