Tunisian Yamen Manaï won the Arabic literature prize in France on Wednesday (November 23rd) for “Bel abîme”, a novel about violence in the most disadvantaged circles of his country.
The prize, endowed with 10,000 euros, was created in 2013 by the Jean-Luc Lagardère Foundation, industrialist and French press boss (1928-2003) and the Arab World Institute (IMA) chaired by Jack Lang, former minister French of Culture.
Yamen Manaï, 42, an engineer by training, has lived in France since he was 18. His novel, published by a Tunis publisher, Elyzad, tells the story of a 15-year-old boy imprisoned for killing his father. The jury praised a short fascinating novel written in a simple and powerful style at the same time, which denounces, through the course of a rebellious teenager, the injustices of a cruel society in the Tunisia of the popular suburbs “. Yamen Manaï had already won the Orange Book Prize in Africa with the same title.
► To listen also: Literature: “Bel abyss” by Yamen Manai, the passion of a teenager
” I am very happy to have won the prize for Arabic literature, because the word “Arab” is a word dear to my heart: it is my mother tongue, which introduced me to literature, which gave me the passion for literature, even if today I practice it in French, so it is a joy to be associated with this heritage, entrusts Yamen Manaï to Houda Ibrahim of RFI’s Africa service. “Bel abîme”, it is a novel, in fact, which is in reaction to the violence which plagues Tunisian society more and more, unfortunately. The condition of the child is difficult to bear, violence is trivialized from the most young age, so that’s the ambition of the book, to deal with this subject of the insidious violence that plagues society and its impact from an early age on the construction of the individual. of a teenager, and he is representative of this somewhat misguided youth, who lives in indifference, and even worse, in violence, institutional violence, violence within the family, within the street. »
— Institute of the Arab World (@imarabe) November 24, 2022
Promoting Arabic literature
A special mention of the prize for Arabic literature was awarded to the Sudanese Hammour Ziada for The Drowned Women of the Nile. Published by Actes Sud, this novel evokes a village on the banks of the river shaken in 1969 by the discovery of the corpse of a teenager.
The Arabic Literature Prize is one of the rare French awards distinguishing Arabic literary creation. It promotes the work of a writer from a country of the Arab League and author of a work written or translated into French. Promoting and disseminating Arabic literature in France in full literary season, such is the will of the founders of this prize, which is also part of the work carried out by the IMA with its Literary Meetings.
(and with AFP)