AFAC closed its 2013 Literature call on April 2nd and received a total of 160 applications from around the Arab region. After a thorough evaluation by a jury committee that includied Rasha Al Amir from Lebanon, Abdel Khaleq Abdallah from the UAE and Khalil Swaileh from Syria, 15 projects were selected to receive grants.
The total amount of the grants was 120,000 USD and the new grantees included 14 individuals and 1 institutions from Palestine, Morocco, Lebanon, Yemen, Sudan, Iraq and Egypt.
Many of the selected projects were concerned with the current social and political issues of the Arab Region while some focused on researching historical and conceptual issues. With a majority of this year’s grantees fitting in the young and emerging writers category, the projects were characterized by a contemporary style while experimenting with new forms of writing and new language.
AFAC is currently accepting applications for the categories of Cinema, Music and RTR (Research, Training and Regional Events). Music and RTR applications must be submitted online no later than September 1st, 2013. Cinema Applications must be submitted online no later than August 1st, 2013.
Scroll down for the list of the new Literature grantees
Grantee: Yasser Abd Elbaqi (Yemen)
“Trawdell” is a fantasy tale, with some autobiographical components, that revolves around the adventures of a Yemeni student who goes to Germany. There, he is exposed to many strange and scary experiences.
Grantee: Yasser Abed El Hafeez (Egypt)
Project: The Coffee Revolution
This novel is based on historical reality, set in the era of the 16th century AD Mamluk ruler Sultan Al-Ghouri during whose reign the drinking of coffee began to spread across the Arab region. How did the Arabs get introduced to this drink? Starting from Sufi beginnings and traveling to the cultural realm of intellectuals and scientists, this novel seeks to imagine the places and setting where the drinking of coffee was desired, the accompanied changes that took place in terms of socializing and staying up late outside one’s home, the development of public coffee houses, and the counter-reaction by the government to use religious authority to prohibit the drinking of coffee.
Grantee: Yassine Abou El-Haytham (Morocco)
Project: The Car (short stories)
The Car is a collection of short stories inspired by public spaces in the city of Marrakesh, taking on the familiar and the complicated, the lives of the city’s people, the by-passers travelling through this red town.
Grantee: Mohammed Cheeir (Egypt)
Project: The Days of Naguib Mahfouz
A biographical tale about the city of Cairo and a description of the transformations experienced by Egyptian society through the literary legacy of foremost Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz. The tale begins with his birth in 1911. How was Egyptian society then? A study based on historic documentation and newspaper archives of the turn of the last century ends with the final scene of Naguib Mahfouz’s funeral, in 2006, during which his coffin becomes a quarrelling point between the ruling government, the political Islamists, and the general public.
Grantee: Maysaloun Ezzawi (Iraq)
Project: The Far End of the Garden
A collection of stories exploring the virtual reality in which today’s human being constantly inhabits via the electronic spaces and social media. Some of the stories look into the immigration and exile that many Iraqi’s are experiencing, others are looking into the need to preserve the environment, lamenting the (mis)management of resources caused by feverish consumerism.
Grantee: Ahmad Gabr (Egypt)
This novel discusses the social and economic circumstances in Egypt, before, during and after the revolution. It sheds light on the interpersonal relationships between Egyptians, from a religious and a social perspective, as well as their relationships with their leadership and how it has evolved over time. The novel also looks into Egyptian society’s changing relationship to television as a primary source, and often the only source – of knowledge.
Grantee: Mo’tassem Jakro (Sudan)
Project: Waiting for the Turtle
This is a second novel in a series of publications about the ‘Arab Spring’, starting with “Departure Hymns” which was published in 2011. The series is a literary compilation aspiring to crystallize a regional intellectual vision that is inclusive in scope, dissecting Arab reality. It lays its hand directly on the accumulated pains – old and new – and attempts to offer some solution.
Grantee: Mohammad Abdel Nabi (Egypt)
Project: The Spider’s House
In May 2011, the “Queen Boat” scandal broke out in Cairo, 52 men were arrested, charged with homosexuality and sentenced to prison. This novel attempt to gage the impact of this drastic event on the lives of these men. What happens after they get out of prison? Can they return to their old lives? Many are in a state of shock and are unable to speak. Can they regain their voices through writing?
Grantee: Mahmoud Khairallah (Egypt)
Project: Egypt’s Bars, the Rise and Fall of Civil Society
A narrative journey into the bars and pubs of Egypt, in Cairo and in the provinces alike, exploring these emblems of civil society as they currently are. It is a reminder of the venerable history that many of these public hang-outs have as locations for cultural exchange and reflections of Egyptian cultural diversity. The novel falls somewhere in between a personal memoire and a documentation project, aiming to preserve these remnants of a once-thriving city.
Grantee: Sobhi Moussa (Egypt)
Project: The Moriscos
The East/West discourse within the context of Islamic civilization in Andalusia comes to the fore in this novel about ‘The Moor.’ It aims to offer a thought paradigm that brings Mediterranean culture closer together. It is based on a medieval publication by a travelling Moor who records his travels from the Iberian Peninsula to North Africa. Today, one of his descendants is dedicated to researching the history of his family back to the age of the “Moriscoes.”.
Grantee: Atheer Safa (Palestine)
The ‘Artists’s Dilemma’ is the core issue of this novel. Because the artist, as a symbol, offers a good paradigm for freedom from authority, oppression and control of thought, as well as a passion for hope and ambition at all costs, this novel is a tragedy. The narrative expression used is one of exaggeration, with concise and intense events to thicken the plot, resulting in a work that is more poetic rather narrative in nature.
Grantee: Abdel Wahham Smakan (Morocco)
Project: Inshitar al-Mutawa77id / (preliminary title)
An artist is killed. His controversial death leaves two investigators seeking out the truth. Was it suicide or was it murder? There are no definitive clues except for a collection of papers the artist had left behind. They are personal monologues, unsent letters and diary entries from different dates. The investigators learn more about the artist’s life, his personality, and his ‘schizophrenia’, but will they discover the truth about his death?
Grantee: Raed Wahash (Palestine)
Project: A Missing Piece from the Damascus Sky
A narrative recording of war and revolution based on the testimonies of eye witnesses, online discussions with visual and textual content, and ‘chatting’ directly with the victims, the exiled and the formerly detained as they tell their tales of fright and arbitrary violence which they had experienced first hand. The narrative also records stories of broken families left to destitute, hunger and homelessness. Through all this destruction, they tell their personal tales out of a need to be heard, to have their stories told. The narrative weaves together imagination with actual fact.
Grantee: Tanweer – Independent Culture (Egypt)
Project: Promoting Literary Publication
A literary publication project to support young authors from the delta area in Egypt to boost their confidence, help them develop their writing talents and distribute their work. It also aims to enrich the content of contemporary Arab literature and offer something new and unique to the Arab reader.