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Saud Alsanousi wins International Prize for Arabic Fiction

A "daring" novel which explores the plight of foreign workers in Gulf countries has won the sixth International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

Saud Alsanousi's The Bamboo Stalk took the $50,000 prize. The author is the first Kuwaiti to take the award and, at 31, also the youngest winner.

Egyptian writer Galal Amin, chair of the prize judges, announced the award at a prize ceremony in Abu Dhabi yesterday (23rd April).

The Bamboo Stalk tells of Issa, the son of a woman who travels from the Philippines to work as a household servant in Kuwait, and a Kuwaiti man. Brought up in his mother's homeland, Issa travels to Kuwait as an adult. But he finds not the mythical country that has been described to him, but a society prejudiced against the socially unacceptable child of Kuwaiti-Filipino heritage.

Amin said: "All the judges agreed on the superior quality of this novel, both artistically and also in terms of its social and humanitarian content."

Jonathan Taylor, chair of the board of IPAF Trustees, said: "The Prize has a history of discovering new voices and we've done that again this year. The judges have been working without fear or favour with their sole objective to identify the best of Arabic fiction published over the last year. We salute a distinguished shortlist and congratulate an outstanding winner."

The Prize is supported by the Booker Prize Foundation in London and funded by sponsor TCA Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Each of the five other shortlisted finalists received $10,000.

To date, five of the six winning novels have secured deals for publication in English.