Novelist Elias Khoury Donates Darwish Prize Winnings to Birzeit University

Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury, winner of the prestigious Mahmoud Darwish Award for Creativity 2016, has donated his $25,000 award to Birzeit University.

Khoury was cited both for his large and diverse literary output and for his attention to Palestine, which has been a cornerstone of his writing and activism.

 “We acknowledge with appreciation the generous donation forwarded towards Birzeit University,” said university president Abdel Latif Abu Hijleh. “Elias Khoury has been a long-standing supporter of the Palestinian cause. He is a man of great thought who has made tremendous literary contributions to the Palestinian liberation struggle.”

“Khoury’s generous gift is just one more example of his leadership in the educational and intellectual arenas, and devotion to the Palestinian cause,” Abu Hijleh continued. “This valuable contribution and generous gesture will make an immense contribution in pushing us ahead to pursue our noble message in education.”

The Mahmoud Darwish Awards were announced in Jordan, on the anniversary of the poet’s birth, and awarded to - in addition to Khoury - the Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan and U.S. novelist Alice Walker. Each prizewinner was awarded $25,000.

Elias Khoury is a Lebanese novelist, playwright, critic and a prominent public intellectual. He has published ten novels, which have been translated into several foreign languages, as well as several works of literary criticism. He has also written three plays. Between 1993 and 2009 he served as editor of Al-Mulhaq, the weekly cultural supplement of the Lebanese daily newspaper Al-Nahar. He currently teaches literature at New York University and is co-editor of the Majallat al-Dirasat al-Filastiniyya published by the Institute of Palestine Studies.

Zaqtan was cited for his great knowledge of poetic tradition and his modernism. Walker was cited for both her novels (The Color Purple in particular) and her anti-racism activism.

The judging committee was led by Faisal Darraj, and other members included Egyptian writers Ibrahim Abdel Maguid, Sa’eed Kafrawi, and Amani Fuad, Jordanian writers Hisham Bustani, Basma al-Nsour, and Jamal Naji, Lebanese novelist Jabbour Douaihy, Mahmoud’s brother Zaki Darwish, Palestinian writer Akram Musallam, and the Iraqi short-story writer Luay Hamza Abbas.