Iraqi Writer Wins Edinburgh Book Festival's First Book Award

AN IRAQI writer has won the Edinburgh International Book Festival's First Book award. Shahad Al Rawi has won the prize for her acclaimed debut, The Baghdad Clock. 

The novel was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2018 and topped the bestseller lists in Iraq, Dubai and UAE, was translated by Luke Leafgren and published by Oneworld.  

The award is voted for by readers and visitors to the festival. It was chosen from the 49 debut novels and short story collections for adults and young adults eligible for the award this year. 

Shahad Al Rawi, who appeared at the festival in August, was born in Baghdad in 1986. She attended secondary school in Baghdad before moving with her family to Syria and now lives in Dubai where she is currently studying for a PhD in Anthropology. 

She said: "I’m very proud for two reasons; first because this prize came from the Edinburgh International Book Festival itself. Secondly, because the competition was extremely strong and the books drew on so many different subjects. 

"I want to thank my readers from all around the world for choosing my novel. In addition, I’d especially like to thank Oneworld for taking so much care with The Baghdad Clock, translating and publishing it in English." 

Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said “To tell stories is a fundamental part of the human condition. Even in extreme situations like the one portrayed in Shahad’s novel, it’s stories that keep people going. Maybe that’s why her novel is so affecting and so powerful." 

The Baghdad Clock is set in 1991 in the midst of the Gulf War, as a young Iraqi girl huddles with her neighbours in an air raid shelter. You can purchase a copy of the The Baghdad Clock and for more information on the Festival, please see 

by Phil Miller



kaldoon said...

Excellent. Keep it up

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