'Destinies: Concerto of the Holocaust and the Nakba' by Rabai al-Madhoun was tonight, Tuesday 26 April 2016, announced as the winner of the ninth International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF). The novel, published by Maktabat Kul Shee (Haifa, Palestine), was named winner by this year’s Chair of Judges, Emirati poet and academic Amina Thiban, at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi. In addition to winning $50,000, Rabai al-Madhoun is guaranteed an English translation of his novel, as well as an increase in book sales and international recognition.
Rabai al-Madhoun, Palestinian-born but now a British citizen, lives and works in London as an editor for Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper. Al-Madhoun’s family emigrated from Ashkelon, Palestine – now Israel – to the Gaza strip after the 1948 Nakba exodus. Leaving Gaza to attend Alexandria University, he later became involved with the Palestinian liberation struggle as a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He left activism in 1980 to focus on writing and has written a number of works of fiction and non-fiction. This is the 70-year-old author’s third novel.
His 2010 novel, 'The Lady from Tel Aviv', was shortlisted for the 2010 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. It was subsequently published in English by Telegram Books in 2013 and won the English PEN Writers in Translation award that year.
A pioneering novel written in four parts, Destinies chronicles Palestinian life both in occupation and exile. Each part representing a concerto movement, the novel looks at the holocaust, the Palestinian exodus from Israel in 1948 (known as the Nakba) and the Palestinian right to return. It is a novel of Palestine from outside and from within. It examines everyday Palestinian life, telling the story of Palestinians living under occupation and compelled to assume Israeli nationality, as well as exiled Palestinians trying to return to their now-occupied home country.