University graduate, writer Ibtisam Barakat wins Sheikh Zayed Book Awards

Ibtisam Barakat, a graduate of Birzeit University, writer and artist, has recently won a prize in the 14thSheikh Zayed Book Awards, one of the Arab world’s major literary competitions, for her book “Al-Fatah Al-Laylakeyyah” (The Lilac Girl), an illustrated story about famous Palestinian artist Taman Alkahal.

Barakat won the Children’s Literature category for The Lilac Girl, published by Tamer Institute for Community Education–Palestine in 2019. In this story, Alkahal, a young Palestinian girl who has lost her home in the Nakba of 1948 but loves to paint, recreates her house in a rainbow of watercolors to find freedom in the world of her imagination, creating beauty from pain.

Author, poet, artist and educator Barakat, born in Beit Hanina, Palestine, grew up under Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. After receiving a BA in English literature from Birzeit University, she emigrated to the United States in 1986. Barakat has won several awards and accolades for her writing and artistic work, and her books have been translated into several languages.

The annual award announced the winners on April 8, 2020. Prizes are awarded in seven key categories and aim to recognize some of the most exciting and challenging works that come out of the Arab world or engage with its culture.