The writers participating in the Writing Sabbaticals 2024, following the open call launched in December 2023, were selected from 130 applications from the Arab world and beyond, through an advisory committee comprised of Haneen Naamneh (writer & researcher, Palestine), Iman Humaydan (writer & novelist, Lebanon), and Yasmeen Hanoosh (fiction writer, translator, & academic, Iraq). The program provides writers the opportunity to dedicate up to three months to complete a new writing project. The writers are:

Dalia Taha (b. 1986, Palestine) for her poetry collection Come, O Silence, which explores the relationship between silence and writing, and tries to document the history of silence and question our relationship with it. It asks how we could approach silence as a literary legacy, a library, and an unintelligible manuscript, and how poetry allows us to observe silence, as a living entity and a history to converse with.

Ganna Adel (b. 1988, Egypt) for her novel Cairo – Nuwaiba (working title), which tells the story of a young woman who leaves her family home in search of her personal independence following the 2011 Egyptian revolution, showing the power of time in changing and transforming life. The project is a collection of letters that Ganna wrote in an attempt to trace the changes she underwent within the political and social context in Egypt at the time, writing through the prism of “successive selves.”

Hani Al-Moustafa (b. 1981, Egypt) for his novel A Journey to the Moon, in which he explores the social history of the place, its humans and objects, employing both fantasy and comedy in the process. Events are told through the eyes and insight of a Nubian child who seeks integration while avoiding total fusion with society, as he grows up in Al-Hay Al-Sades in Cairo, before construction and socio-economic shifts changed its features.

Jana Nakhal (b. 1983, Lebanon) for her sci-fi novel In Search of Figs, which is set in a Levantine dystopia in 2064. It follows a woman on her journey of survival and flight, as she faces the destruction of the state, patriarchy, environmental deterioration, colonization, and late capitalism. Joined by other women on her quest, the road extends as they share life experiences and discover that they want more than just survival.

Mamoun Osman (b. 1982, Sudan) for his nonfiction, Sudan: Before and after the War, which explores, using realism, fantasy, and the metaphysical, the education system in Sudan while juxtaposing social life there with that of Saudi Arabia. Written as a memoir, it traces life under the Islamic dictatorship, the December 2018 revolution, the April 2023 war, and its aftermath, noting the different people who helped culturally and intellectually resist the destruction of the Sudanese people.

Souhaib Ayoub (b. 1989, Lebanon) for his novel The Lake of Pain (working title), which follows Bichara as he returns to his hometown Tripoli after 35 years in Paris, in search of a woman in an old picture that his father used to carry. It recounts three interconnected stories, about Bichara’s father, who mummified his dead wife and committed suicide, his orphaned mother, and his own story as a sex worker. The novel explores one’s relationship to their family history and their perpetual search for meaning and roots.

Theresa Sahyoun (b. 1995, Lebanon) for her novella A Happy People, narrated through Julia who, at the threshold of adulthood, struggles to coexist with her body and her move to Beirut. Her journey is situated between the start of Lebanon’s trash crisis in 2015 and October 2023. It is a testimony to the intersection between the body and the city, and looks at the limitations of traditional therapy in a post-colonial context.

The the advisory committee for 2024 was made up of:

Haneen Naamneh is a writer and researcher from Palestine.

Iman Humaydan is a renowned Lebanese writer and creative writing consultant and jury member of literary prizes. She wrote five novels that were translated into numerous languages. Her novels give women a voice to tell their own stories. Her forth novel, 50 Grams of Paradise, won the 2016 Katara Prize (Qatar). She teaches creative writing at European and North American universities.

Yasmeen Hanoosh is a fiction writer, translator, and academic from Iraq. Yasmeen is a professor of Arabic literature at Portland State University and author of the monograph The Chaldeans: Politics and Identity in Iraq and the American Diaspora (I.B. Tauris, 2019), and the short story collection Ardh al-Khayrat al-Mal’unah (The Land of Cursed Riches, Al-Ahliyyah Press, 2021). Her second collection, Atfal al-Jannah al-Mankubah (Children of Afflicted Paradise) has been translated and excerpted in English, Spanish, and Italian. Yasmeen’s English translations of Arabic fiction have appeared in various literary journals and publications, including World Literature Today, Banipal, ArabLit Quarterly, and The Iowa Review. Her translation Closing His Eyes (Luay Hamza Abbas), received the NEA translation fellowship (2010). Her translation of Scattered Crumbs (Muhsin al-Ramli) won the Arkansas Arabic Translation Prize (2002) and has been since excerpted in a number of publications and anthologized in Literature from the Axis of Evil: Writing from Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Other Enemy Nations (2006).

The peer for the Writings Sabbaticals 2024 is Iman Humaydan.