Organizers of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA) today announced the winners — in seven categories — of their 14th annual prize:
This year’s Children’s Literature prize went to Palestinian-American author Ibtisam Barakat for her picture book الفتاة الليلكية (The Lilac Girl, 2019) published by Palestine’s Tamer Institute for Community Education. The book is part of a series focused around Palestinian artists, this one inspired by the painter Tamam al-Akhal. “Instead of telling a story with words, she tells her pain to the watercolors and her happiness to the oil pastels.”
Barakat publishes in both Arabic and English; several of her previous books have met with awards and acclaim. Her التاء المربوطة تطير (The Ta’ That Flies) won an Anna Lindh Foundation prize in 2011, while her English-language awards include an International Reading Association’s Best Non Fiction for YA in 2008, the Middle East Council Best Literature Book Award in 2007, and an Arab American Book Award in the Children/ Young Adult Category in 2008. In addition to several books in Arabic, Barakat has two works in English: Tasting the Sky, a memoir, and Balcony on the Moon, a YA memoir.
According to organizers, a record-breaking total of 1900 entries were submitted this year, including 205 in children’s literature.
Each winner is set to receive 750,000 UAE dirhams (approximately $204,000 USD).