The International Prize for Arab Fiction–widely referred to as “the Arabic Booker Prize”–was awarded to Abdo Khal. I was rooting for Khal, since his novel’s title was my favorite among the nominees. It’s called She Throws Sparks–which would also be a great name for a band.
According to this article The National,a newspaper in Abu Dhabi, the title has also been translated as Spewing Sparks as Big as Castles. “It comes from a Quranic verse and is a reference to hell. Khal uses the metaphor to describe the situation of people in a kind of living hell. Set in Jeddah, he compares part of the town to heaven and part of it to hell and then writes a graphic account of sex, repression, love and despair.”
It sounds like a very interesting book, but sadly it is not available in English. Here’s hoping a US publisher takes note of the award.–David E