The winners of this year’s Palestine Book Awards (PBA) were announced this evening in London, in recognition of authors and their contribution to the literature on the subject of Palestine.
The 8th PBA awards ceremony was preceded by an informal event with authors of the shortlisted books speaking about their publications at the P21 Gallery, giving the public an opportunity to ask questions about the works collated this year. The oversubscribed event was well received by attendees, who were also able to purchase the shortlisted books and have them signed by their respective authors.
A total of 43 English language books were entered in this year’s competition with seven having been shortlisted by a panel of expert judges. The awards were categorised as follows: Academic, Creative, Social History, Translation and Lifetime Achievement.
2019 Winners are:
- Lifetime Achievement Award:
Palestine, Land and People (Saqi Books)
- Acadamic Award:
Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine (Stanford University)
- Creative Award:
The Parisian (Jonathan Cape)
- Social History Award:
Stone Men: The Palestinians Who Built Israel (Verso Books)
- Translation Award:
Where the Bird Disappeared (Seagull Books)
The evening was opened by PBA judge Alan Waddams, who thanked guests for attending an event that celebrated important contributions to Palestinian literature.
“One thing is clear, nothing gets better…anywhere, especially not in Palestine,” Waddams remarked, noting the developments over the past year, in particular the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel against international law, in addition to the expanding illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank with continued killings, dispossession and injustice faced by the Palestinian people.
In spite of these set backs, Waddams continued, “the Palestinians never give up” as such each year, we are able to enjoy fresh insights in literature and academia, which in this current age of Trump and fake news, it is more important than ever to collect the truth and to keep up the Palestinian struggle.
Waddams then handed over to author and PBA winner Noura Erakat for this year’s keynote address.
Speaking in a moment of growing global protests, Erakat highlighted the vast movements ranging from Puerto Rico and Hawaii to Sudan, Lebanon and Iraq. Moving onto the besieged Gaza Strip, Erakat reminded the audience that this week will be the 81st week of protests demanding the right to return for refugees and ultimately freedom.
As such we are living in a remarkable time of protests, “witnessing history in the making”, a similar history that we have seen before during the apex of colonialism and anti-imperial uprisings of the third world in the early 1960s through to the early 1980s.
Highlighting the links between the Black solidarity movement and that Palestinian rights groups, she described how transnational networks are now working together.
Closing her speech, Erakat said that thinking about Palestinian freedom is not just about Palestinians, but freedom for everyone, with a framework that extends beyond the nation-state. If the Palestinians can figure that out, Erakat contended, then the Palestinians can not only offer answers for themselves but for the rest of the world.
Noura Erakat took the Academic Award for her “Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine”, which the judges said was “A unique exposition of how international law has failed Palestine for more than half a century”.
Isabella Hammad was presented the Creative Award by PBA Judge Subhi Hadidi for her debut historical novel, “The Parisian” set in the backdrop of Nablus in the late Ottoman period and the French capital in an engaging east meets west culture clash. Hammad joined the audience via Skype from the occupied West Bank, her father accepted the award on her behalf.
His Excellency Dr Hosam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador to the UK, awarded Andrew Ross for his book “Stone Men: The Palestinians Who Built Israel” which this year was named the Social History Award winner. The book is a unique take on the Israeli occupation in relation to Palestine’s stones and indigenous stone industry and the establishment of another country. Zomlot joked that it is fitting that the Palestinian ambassador gives an award to a none Palestinian who is working hard for Palestinian rights.
In a PBA first, Samuel Wilder’s translation of “Where the Bird Disappeared” by Ghassan Zaqtan picked up the new prize of Translation Award for a novel “full of Palestinian symbolism”.
Nabil Anani received the Lifetime Achievement Award for “Nabil Anani: Palestine, Land and People” a homage to a distinguished Palestinian artist in addition to the collective memories of Palestinians and the Palestinian homeland.ss
MEMO’s much anticipated and flagship event is the culmination of months of hard work. Nominations start in January with submissions being made by national and international publishers.
To submit a book for consideration for next year’s awards, visit the Palestine Book Awards’ website where the opening date for next year’s awards will be listed in the new year.