French students help pick 2020 Choix Goncourt de l’Orient winning novel  

Birzeit University French-language students joined peers from 29 universities across the Middle East to crown to the 2020 Choix Goncourt de l’Orient (Goncourt List, Choice of the Orient) prize in a virtual ceremony held in December 2020.  

The Choix Goncourt de l’Orient, now in its ninth edition, is an annual prize organized by the Institut Français in Lebanon and the Francophone University Agency’s Middle East office. The prize was chosen by teams of student jurors from universities in 10 Middle Eastern countries, including Palestine, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. In total, 35 teams of students took part in reviewing the submitted literature and awarding the prize.  

Supported by Muna Ibayyeh, an instructor at the university’s French department, 10 French-language students from Birzeit University read, reviewed, and compared the eight candidate novels over the course of two months. The students also wrote and edited literary columns discussing and analyzing the submitted works.  

Muna Dawood, who headed the university’s student team, took part in the jury deliberation and voting process, held virtually, in a session chaired by noted Francophone author Salma Kojok. After a lively debate by the student juries, Djaïli Amadou Amal’s “Les Impatientes” was chosen as the overall winner. The novel will be translated into Arabic as part of the prize.