ABU DHABI: A Saudi novelist has won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, becoming the third author in 10 years from the country to grab the Arab world’s most prestigious literary award.

Mohammed Hasan Alwan won for his novel “A Small Death”, which is a fictionalised account of the life of Sufi scholar and philosopher Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi from his birth in Muslim Spain in the 12th century until his death in Damascus.

The novel follows Ibn Arabi’s Sufi experience and heroic travels from Andalusia to Azerbaijan, via Morocco, Egypt, the Hijaz in today’s western Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

“Of a sensitive and anxious nature, Muhyiddin struggles with inner turmoil throughout the course of his travels,” the abstract said.

Though “90 percent of the novel is fiction”, Alwan said after receiving the award “I felt the pain while writing it”.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2017

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