David Baldacci’s YA novel The Finisher (Pan Macmillan) took the crown for the Best International Fiction Book at the Sharjah International Book Fair Awards yesterday (5th November).
Michele Young, children’s rights director at Pan Macmillan, received the award on behalf of Baldacci from the Sheikh at a lavish ceremony taking place on the official opening day of the 33rd SIBF at the Sharjah Expo Centre, UAE.
Young said: “It is a privilege to be here, it is not every day you get the opportunity to meet the Sheikh. I know David will be pleased to have this award.”
The best non-Arab publishing house award went to Taschen Publishing and the best foreign book was claimed by musician and philanthropist Yusuf Islam, formerly Cat Stevens, who converted to Islam in 1977, for his autobiography Why I Still Carry A Guitar (Motivate Publishing).
Meanwhile, UK children’s author and storyteller Julia Johnson, who has lived in the UAE since 1975, picked up the gong for the Best Arabic Book for her title The Turtle Secret (Motivate Publishing), which tells the story of Hessa, a 10-year-old Emirati girl who expresses an enduring passion for the sea and the environment and dreams of becoming a marine biologist when she grows up.
Lisa Milton, m.d of Orion General, attended the award ceremony after acting as one of five judges on the SIBF children’s book panel. She told The Bookseller: “I came out last month for the judging. It was an amazing day, I sat down on the sofa and was read 50 children’s stories because I don't speak Arabic, to decide which I thought was the best.”
She added: “It is a huge honour to be here and it was a big responsibility selecting which books should win. I think what Sharjah is doing is showing there is a real drive to make books an important part of their cultural life.
All publishers have to look to international market for opportunities for growth now and this is a promising area. Everyone talks about China as the key area for international growth but this market cannot be overlooked.”
Over 1,250 publishers from 59 countries (35 non-Arab) are taking part in the 33rd SIBF, with houses from Iceland, Fenland, Mexico, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Hungary, Malta, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Nigeria participating for the first time.
His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhamad Al-Qasimi, member of the Supreme Council and ruler of Sharjah, spoke of the “disgraceful” and “barbaric” acts that were taking place “in the name of Islam” across the Arab world and said he “works hard to dispel these dark clouds so that the light of truth and virtue may shine through books.”
His Excellency Abdulaziz Taryam, director general of Etisalat in the Northern Emirates, an the official sponsor of the fair, added: “What we see here today is the best proof for that the Sharjah International Book Fair has a prominent cultural role and is a destination for every intellectual who is keen on keeping up with the latest developments of the cultural scene around the world.”
The full list of winners is:
Best Local Publishing House Award: Madarik Publishing
Best Arab Publishing House Award: Al Farabi
Best non-Arab Publishing House Award: Taschen Publishing
Best Creative Emiarti Book by Emirati Author: Dr. Souad Al Arimi for her novel Draib Al Ghawyat (Routes of the Seduced)
Best Emiarti Academic Book: Dr. Youssef AL Hasan, for his book What culture and What Citizen Do we wish for in the future?
Best Emiarti Book - published in the UAE: The book Live from the UAE, published by Al Bayan Newspaper
Best Arabic Book - Fiction: Mansoura Izzeddin for her book Jebel Al Zumurrud
Best Foreign Book - Fiction: David Baldacci for his book The Finisher
Best Foreign Book - non-Fiction: Youssef Islam for his book Why I Still Carry a Guitar
Best Arabic Book - Children Books: Julia Johnson for her book The Turtle Secret
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