The Writing Sabbaticals 2022 recipients were selected from more than 160 applications from the Arab world, through an advisory committee comprised of Maya Abul Hayatt (novelist and poet, Jerusalem), Muhamed Abdelnaby (writer and translator, Cairo), and Nadia Ghanem (filmmaker, Cairo). The writers are:
Mohamed Abdelraouf (b. 1988, Egypt) for his essay Back From War With a Party in his Head, which borrows from literature, journalism, and socio-political history. The novel employs a heteroclite style that resonates with the author’s experience of compulsory military service, his emotional struggles, and some of his favourite songs.
Nur Turkmani (b. 1995, Lebanon-Syria) for her multivocal short story collection In the Line and Other Stories about relational intimacies during periods of crisis. The collection explores love, sex, and heartbreak, as well as intergenerational social collision. It questions meaning-making amidst collective tragedies and the human tendency to return –sometimes unwillingly– to human connection.
Sara Elkamel (b.1990, Egypt) for Keep (working title) – a poetry collection that grapples with experiences of confinement and resistance. In lyric poems that entertain the surreal, Keep portrays experiences of girlhood, daughterhood, and womanhood. It also engages personal narratives of the 2011 Revolution in Egypt, and offers a reinterpretation of the Bride of the Nile myth.
Sima Qunsol (b. 1995, Jordan) for her new autobiographical novella that explores the grief of losing a parent by revisiting dinner table conversations as well as intimate and collective anecdotes about her father’s life.
Soukaina Habiballah (b.1989, Morocco) for her detective novel The Norwegian. Written in Modern Standard Arabic and Darija, it reflects on oral transmission and official history, and takes place in the late 1800s and early 1900s in both Morocco and the US. Through the voice of an elderly Moroccan woman interrogated in a police station, she progressively weaves threads of fragmentary real and imagined stories.
This edition of the Writing Sabbaticals was partially supported by the Flemish Department of Foreign Affairs and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.