The 12th edition of IPAF ceremony held in Abu Dhabi, on April 23rd, rewarded Hoda Barakat for her novel “Night Post”
Sindbad, Actes Sud, France (2018)
Oneworld publications, UK (to appear, 2020)
La nave di Teseo, Italy (to appear, 2019)
“A writer of her time”
“Original and powerful”
— Mediapart —
— Transfuges —
“These stories capture instantly the lives of people as they depart on a one way Odyssey”
— L’Humanité —
Barakat’s latest novel is presumably set somewhere between Beirut and Paris. From one capital to the other, in this globalized violent world of ours, the novel’s characters, all Arabs, travel to escape, and converge towards the airport. But the refuge the West seems to offer is mostly an illusion, and the characters all have to face their failures.
While the novel hints at the classical theme of travel literature, we are far from the excitement of discovery and adventure. Travel here is an ultimate, desperate attempt to salvation.
In the same way, while the novel mainly consists of six letters, it is not epistolary, since each letter is intercepted by an unrelated person, who, after reading it, is compelled to write a letter of her own. An illegal emigrant writes his lover; a woman in a hotel awaits a man; a torturer on the run writes his mother; a woman writes her brother about their mother’s death; a young homosexual man writes his father; and finally, the mailman leaves a note.
In a resolutely modern and contemporary novel, Barakat illustrates the dissolution of Arab societies. The novel’s unusual structure itself illustrates social failure. People seem to talk past each other, rather than to each other. As a result, wrongs are never made right, or even acknowledged.
ABOUT HODA BARAKAT
Barakat was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1952. She graduated with a degree in French Literature from the Lebanese University in 1975. She worked as a teacher, translator, and journalist, before moving to Paris in 1989 with her two children, towards the end of the Lebanese civil war. She has lived there ever since.
Hoda Barakat was awarded the prestigious Al Owais prize in 2018. This prize honors major Arab writers and was previously awarded to Abdul Rahman Mouneef, Nizar Qabbani, Edward Said, Mahmoud Darwish, Adonis, Amin Maalouf, Elias Khoury to name only a few.
Hoda Barakat was shortlisted for the International Man Booker prize, 2015.
She was also decorated “Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres”, by the French Ministry of Culture in 2002, and “Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite National” in 2008.
ABOUT THE IPAF
The IPAF’s aim is to reward excellence in contemporary Arabic creative writing and to encourage the readership of high quality Arabic literature internationally through the translation and publication of winning and shortlisted novels in other major languages.
In addition to the Prize itself, IPAF supports other literary initiatives. In 2009 IPAF launched its inaugural Nadwa (writers’ workshop) for emerging writers of fiction in Arabic.
The Prize is run with the support, as its mentor, of the Booker Prize Foundation in London and funded by Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi (DCT).