Saudi novelist Omaima al-Khamis has been awarded the 23rd Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature, for her novel “Masra al-Gharaniq fi Mudun al-‘Aqiq” (Voyage of the Cranes in Cities of Agate). Ms Khamis received her medal in a recent ceremony at the American University in Cairo, AUC’s Oriental Hall at the Tahrir campus.
The annual award is granted by AUC to commemorate the Egyptian novelist and Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz (1911 – 2006) who received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1988.
Published by al-Saqi publishing house in Beirut, Ms Khamis’s novel was described by the jury as “a serious work that speaks to our time through history, taking the form of a journey from Arabia northwards and westwards to Andalusia in the 11th century, during the rule of the weakened Abbasids in Baghdad, the Fatimids in Cairo, and the warring factions of Islamic rule in Spain.”
Apart from the award, the Saudi writer signed a contract with the AUC for publishing her novels.
After she received the award, Ms Khamis gave a speech in which she thanked her beloved homeland Saudi Arabia for believing in her writings as a ‘woman who overcomes for the future’. “Regards and respect to our great writer Naguib Mahfouz who taught us the hidden charm of telling stories,” she said.
Khamis was born in 1966 in Riyadh to a family of writers. Her mother was the first woman to write in al-Jazira newspaper, and her father is the great historian Abdullah Ben Muhammad Ben Khamis. She studied in the universities of Kind Saud and Washington. Her winning novel is her fourth, and she has written opinion articles and children literature. Many of her writings were translated into Italian, English, and other languages.
16 December 2018