Thursday,18 January, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1376, (11-17 January 2018)
Thursday,18 January, 2018
Issue 1376, (11-17 January 2018)

Ahram Weekly

A moveable feast

Nahed Nasr attended the Sawiris Cultural Awards ceremony

A moveable feast

Together with Al-Ushb (The Grass) by Saad Abdel-Fattah, Paulo, the third and latest novel by Al-Ahram Weekly’s very own Youssef Rakha won the best novel prize in the established writers category at the 13th Sawiris Cultural Awards. Published by Dar Al-Tanwir, Rakha’s book deals with the so-called Arab Spring from the unusual perspective of a disturbed photographer-intellectual who is also a security agent. The Weekly’s cultural editor, Rakha – who was among the 39 best Arab writers under 40 selected for the Hay Festival Beirut39 Festival in 2010 – is a poet, critic and photographer as well as a novelist. Paulo was on the long list of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2017. 


from left: Abdel-Hafez, Rakha and Nour

Run by the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development, the Sawiris Cultural Awards were established in 2005 with the object of recognising literary excellence in emerging and established Egyptian writers. It has since expanded to include, as well as the novel and the short story, screenplays, plays and literary criticism, the latter added in 2013. 

Held at the Cairo Opera House Main Hall for the first time, the ceremony featured three musical performances by Nesma Mahgoub and two screenings of documentaries. The first, by Lana Al-Sinawi, was on the late fashion designer, socialite and cultural dynamo Shams Al-Itribi – according to Samih Sawiris, the original force behind the Cultural Awards – who passed away in late 2017 and whose name this round of the Awards honours. And the second was on the diversity and extent of the foundation’s development work. 

Present were Minister of Culture Helmi Al-Namnam, Social Solidarity Minister Ghada Wali and Sawiris Foundation founder and board member businessman Samih Sawiris. Actors Ahmed Helmi, Khaled Al-Nabawi and Hana Shiha as well as television anchor Jasmin Taha presented the evening. In his brief address Al-Namnam praised the foundation’s pioneering role as a patron of the arts while Walispoke of civil society’s role in the deeper aspects of development. 

A total of 19 writers won awards out of 608 submitted works (185 works of fiction by established and 142 by emerging writers, 106 screenplays by established and 39 by emerging writers, 114 plays and 22 works of literary criticism. As well as Abdel-Fattah and Rakha, who shared the novel award, established winners included Samar Nour and Said Nouh (short story), Islam Al-Azzazi (screenplay), Eissa Gamaleddin, Tamer Abdel-Hamid and Yasmine Imam (play) and Mahmoud Ahmed Abdallah and Reda Atiya (criticism). 

The established writers’ juries were as follows: Said Al-Kafrawi, Ahmed Abdel-Hamid, Mohamed Shamroukh, Mahmoud Al-Daba and Yasser Abdel-Hafez for literature; Dawoud Abdel-Sayed, Beshir Al-Dik, Saad Hendawi, Salma Mubarak and Essam Zakaria for screenwriting; Mustafa Riad, Eman Ezzeddin, Khaled Galal, Dalia Al-Shayal and Nasser Abdel-Moneim for theatre; and Haitham Algaj Ali, Sayed Dif Allah, Abdel-Nasser Hilal, Fatma Kandil and Hala Fouad. 

In the emerging writers section the winners were Ali Said, Mohamed Abdel-Nabi (first place), Ahmed Shawki and Mina Hani (second place) in the novel; Amir Zaki, Mohamed Alaaeddin (first place), Mark Amgad and Sherine Fathi (second place) in the short story; and Rasha Ezzat for screenwriting. 

The literature jury was made up of Nabil Abdel-Fattah, Adel Esmat, Ali Ata, Mohamed Selim Shousha and Mohamed Shoair, and the screenwriting jury of Magdi Ahmed Ali, Rugina Basali, Kamal Ramzi, Mohamed Ali and Yehia Azmi. 

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