Edinburgh International Book Festival First Book Award winner is Iraqi writer Shahad Al Rawi

Edinburgh International Book Festival First Book Award winner is Iraqi writer Shahad Al Rawi

Organisers of the Edinburgh International Book Festival today announced that the Iraqi writer Shahad Al Rawi has won the Festival’s 2018 First Book Award with her debut novel, The Baghdad Clock.

Organisers of the Edinburgh International Book Festival today announced that the Iraqi writer Shahad Al Rawi has won the Festival’s 2018 First Book Award with her debut novel, The Baghdad Clock. The novel, which was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2018 and topped the bestseller lists in Iraq, Dubai and UAE, was translated by Luke Leafgren and published by Oneworld.

The First Book Award celebrates the wealth of new fiction from the UK and around the world featured in the Book Festival public programme and is voted for by readers and visitors to the Festival. The winner was chosen from the 49 debut novels and short story collections for adults and young adults eligible for the Award this year.

Shahad Al Rawi, who appeared at the Book Festival in August, was born in Baghdad in 1986. She attended secondary school in Baghdad before moving with her family to Syria. She now lives in Dubai where she is currently studying for a PhD in Anthropology.

In her poignant novel, Al Rawi takes readers beyond the familiar images of Iraq in the news to show the everyday struggle of Baghdad's people, revealing the reality of growing up in a war-torn city and watching a way of life that's slowly disappearing in front of their eyes.

“I’m extremely happy to receive the news of winning the 2018 First Book Award from the Edinburgh International Book Festival.” Shahad Al Rawi said. “I’m very proud for two reasons; first because this prize came from the Edinburgh International Book Festival itself. Secondly, because the competition was extremely strong and the books drew on so many different subjects. I want to thank my readers from all around the world for choosing my novel. In addition, I’d especially like to thank Oneworld for taking so much care with The Baghdad Clock, translating and publishing it in English.

“Edinburgh International Book Festival is one of the most important festivals in the world,” she continued. “It has the best reputation, and I’m very grateful that I was part of it this year. I was so happy to participate in all the activities and very impressed by how well organized it was. Most of all I was enchanted by the people. I wish every success to the Edinburgh International Book Festival in the coming years to continue creating bridges between writers and readers. I loved everything about the City of Edinburgh and it’s a great honour to be connected to it by this prestigious prize that carries its name.”

Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said “To tell stories is a fundamental part of the human condition. Even in extreme situations like the one portrayed in Shahad’s novel, it’s stories that keep people going. Maybe that’s why her novel is so affecting and so powerful. The Baghdad Clock is not just a popular winner with Edinburgh International Book Festival readers this year: it’s also a brilliant winner that will live long in the memory – and it establishes Shahad Al Rawi as a force to be reckoned with, in Arabic and English alike.”

The Baghdad Clock is set in 1991 in the midst of the Gulf War, as a young Iraqi girl huddles with her neighbours in an air raid shelter. There, she meets Nadia, and the girls quickly become best friends, sharing their dreams, their desires, and their first loves. But as they grow older and the bombs continue to fall, the international sanctions bite and friends begin to flee the country, the girls must face the fact that their lives will never be the same again.

The novel was a clear favourite, with voters commenting “It is a novel that touches the hearts of Iraqis before others, from the reality of their lives. Thank you to Shahed Al Rawi for having made blood flow in my veins again. “The book took me back to the beautiful days when we were just small kids and teenagers. No pain no war no loss.” “It expressed our past life and our friendships, our neighbours in very simple and touching words.” And “Some books you can touch the fragrance of the past when you read them. This novel brings back memories that were hidden under the dust of time.”

For full details of all writers and books eligible for the 2018 First Book Award go to www.edbookfest.co.uk
The 2019 Edinburgh International Book Festival will run from Saturday 10 to Monday 26 August and the full programme will be announced in June.

Image credit: Kareem El Deeb

Last Updated: 1 November 2018 14:09

Latest Local News

This is the one! Singer and pianist flashmob brings Edinburgh to a standstill!

This is the one! Singer and pianist flashmob brings Edinburgh to a standstill!

The 1:1 Diet by Cambridge Weight Plan surprised passers-by at Edinburgh Waverley station by taking over the station's piano!
Last Updated: 21st May 2019
Traverse Theatre Announces the Full Programme for Traverse Festival 2019

Traverse Theatre Announces the Full Programme for Traverse Festival 2019

Traverse Theatre announces bold programme for 2019 Festival, celebrating Resilience and Action in the face of Challenge and Oppression.
Last Updated: 17th May 2019
Great Scott! RSNO presents Back to the Future in Concert in Edinburgh and Glasgow

Great Scott! RSNO presents Back to the Future in Concert in Edinburgh and Glasgow

Fans old and new will experience Back to the Future like never before – on the big screen with a full symphony orchestra!
Last Updated: 12th May 2019
Summer Sessions Edinburgh adds Fatherson, The Ninth Wave and more...

Summer Sessions Edinburgh adds Fatherson, The Ninth Wave and more...

DF Concerts today announce exciting additions to a world class festival line up for 2019’s Summer Sessions in Edinburgh.
Last Updated: 9th May 2019
Dash For Kids on Superhero Day

Dash For Kids on Superhero Day

Presenters Gina McKie and Ewen Cameron get ready to take park in Forth 2’s Superhero Day, raising money for Cash for Kids!
Last Updated: 9th May 2019
Camelphat to play elrow Town Edinburgh 2019

Camelphat to play elrow Town Edinburgh 2019

With anticipation building for its debut in the north of the UK, CamelPhat are unveiled as first act for elrow Town Edinburgh on Saturday 27th July 2019.
Last Updated: 8th May 2019
Needle & Thread launches in Scotland at Harvey Nichols

Needle & Thread launches in Scotland at Harvey Nichols

Harvey Nichols Edinburgh is delighted to be launching acclaimed British designer Hannah Coffin’s luxury womenswear brand, Needle & Thread.
Last Updated: 3rd May 2019
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is back!

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is back!

Jeremy Clarkson is hosting another exciting series of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and ITV are looking for contestants who can make it all the way to £1Million!
Last Updated: 2nd May 2019
Thousands turn out to enjoy feast of fun at Paisley Food and Drink Festival 2019

Thousands turn out to enjoy feast of fun at Paisley Food and Drink Festival 2019

More than 16,000 people turned out to enjoy a two-day feast of delicious street food and live entertainment at this year’s Paisley Food and Drink Festival!
Last Updated: 28th April 2019
Family business scoops top award!

Family business scoops top award!

A family-run business has become Ayrshire's first ever Five Star Tourist Shop following a grading from VisitScotland!
Last Updated: 26th April 2019
Race for Culzean

Race for Culzean

Fun-seekers are being invited to put their limits to the test at the Culzean Challenge, and to explore one of Scotland's heritage treasures as the same time!
Last Updated: 25th April 2019
Business Heats Up For Edinburgh Hot Sauce Brand

Business Heats Up For Edinburgh Hot Sauce Brand

From 26th April, Bonnie Sauce will be available at Sainsbury’s with their delicious flavours including; Mango & Habanero, Smoky Chipotle and Fiery Scotch Bonnet.
Last Updated: 25th April 2019
Fiesta Fun at Hard Rock Cafe Edinburgh

Fiesta Fun at Hard Rock Cafe Edinburgh

Hard Rock Cafe Edinburgh kicks off its Cinco De Mayo Fiesta with Spirited Menu headlined by refreshing Margaritas.
Last Updated: 24th April 2019
The Edinburgh and East Coast Cook Book launches

The Edinburgh and East Coast Cook Book launches

The latest addition to our ‘Get Stuck In’ series shines a light on the exciting culinary landscape of Edinburgh and the east coast of Scotland.
Last Updated: 24th April 2019
Theatre show on the hunt for audiences!

Theatre show on the hunt for audiences!

Do you run a group for young children? Would you like a free theatre show to come visit you? Then book Calvinball today! It's a show - it's in the fresh air - it's fun - and it's freeeee!
Last Updated: 24th April 2019
Paisley set to host its biggest and best Food and Drink Festival this weekend

Paisley set to host its biggest and best Food and Drink Festival this weekend

Foodies have been urged not to miss this weekend’s Paisley Food and Drink Festival as the town gets set to host its biggest and best culinary extravaganza yet!
Last Updated: 24th April 2019
Legendary hostel offers the perfect base for exploring the Clyde Valley

Legendary hostel offers the perfect base for exploring the Clyde Valley

Located in the heart of New Lanark World Heritage Site, the 'Wee Row' provides a unique hostel experience like no other!
Last Updated: 18th April 2019
What Girls Are Made Of returns to Edinburgh Festival Fringe to Rock an even Bigger Venue

What Girls Are Made Of returns to Edinburgh Festival Fringe to Rock an even Bigger Venue

Raw Material and Traverse Theatre Company co-production 'What Girls Are Made Of' busts out of Traverse 1 into the bigger Festival space of the Assembly Hall.
Last Updated: 18th April 2019
Leading Conservation Charity reopens the doors of the 5 star visitor experience

Leading Conservation Charity reopens the doors of the 5 star visitor experience

The Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick, has now opened for the spring season following the completion of the first stage of their refurbishment.
Last Updated: 17th April 2019
Trix the T. rex is ready for her big Glasgow reveal

Trix the T. rex is ready for her big Glasgow reveal

Trix the Tyrannosaurus rex is all ready to meet Scottish and UK audiences at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow!
Last Updated: 17th April 2019
Top pipers on way to Paisley for British championships

Top pipers on way to Paisley for British championships

Thousands of the world’s top pipers and drummers will again descend on Paisley for one of the biggest dates in the global piping calendar!
Last Updated: 17th April 2019
Edinburgh International Book Festival Presents Citizen at North Edinburgh Arts

Edinburgh International Book Festival Presents Citizen at North Edinburgh Arts

Edinburgh International Book Festival today announced two days of activity in May as part of their Citizen programme.
Last Updated: 15th April 2019
Trix the T. rex arrives in Glasgow

Trix the T. rex arrives in Glasgow

For 15 weeks from Thursday 18th April, Glasgow's Kelvin Hall will host the world's only real touring Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton!
Last Updated: 13th April 2019
Dippy on Tour surpasses one million visitors milestone!

Dippy on Tour surpasses one million visitors milestone!

Dippy on Tour: A Natural History Adventure has been visited by more than one million people, breaking records at every venue visited so far!
Last Updated: 10th April 2019
Enjoy a staycation with Macdonald Hotels & Resorts this summer

Enjoy a staycation with Macdonald Hotels & Resorts this summer

With heatwaves and Brexit on the horizon, a 'staycation' has never been more popular, research shows more than half of Brits are expected to ditch overseas travel in favour of a Great British break!
Last Updated: 10th April 2019
Scottish festivals bring biggest artists in the World to Glasgow and Edinburgh this Summer

Scottish festivals bring biggest artists in the World to Glasgow and Edinburgh this Summer

Don't miss artists such as Stormzy, Catfish and the Bottlemen, George Ezra, Gerry Cinnamon, Snow Patrol, The Cure, CHVRCHES, Courteeners and more in Glasgow and Edinburgh this Summer!
Last Updated: 10th April 2019
VIBES Awards urge Edinburgh businesses to become sustainable leaders and boost growth

VIBES Awards urge Edinburgh businesses to become sustainable leaders and boost growth

Businesses in Edinburgh are being encouraged to become world leaders in sustainability and embrace the economic opportunities that environmental changes can bring.
Last Updated: 9th April 2019
Fun on the menu for kids at Paisley Food and Drink Festival 2019

Fun on the menu for kids at Paisley Food and Drink Festival 2019

There’s plenty of fun on the menu for kids at this year’s Paisley Food and Drink Festival with a range of hands-on foodie experiences and amazing live entertainment.
Last Updated: 3rd April 2019
Floral phone box on Castle Street heralds first variant from the Cabinet of Curiosities at the Hendricks Gin Palace.

Floral phone box on Castle Street heralds first variant from the Cabinet of Curiosities at the Hendricks Gin Palace.

Hendrick's Gin casts enchantment over Edinburgh bygone icon of connection as it launches deeply floral, limited-edition Hendrick's ‘Midsummer Solstice Gin’.
Last Updated: 28th March 2019
Run Scotland on The Ultra Tour of Arran

Run Scotland on The Ultra Tour of Arran

Rat Race Adventure Sports will again stage the audacious 100km off-road running challenge on the Isle of Arran, Scotland in miniature, on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th April!
Last Updated: 25th March 2019

Sponsored Links

Popular Events

The Meadows Festival
Edinburgh's free volunteer-run music & community Meadows Festival returns on the 1st and 2nd June 2019.
Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival
The Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival returns on 24th and 25th May with a world class line-up of breweries, headline music acts and Scotland’s finest street food.
The Rocky Horror Show
Richard O’Brien’s legendary rock 'n' roll musical is back to thrill you once again at the Edinburgh Playhouse.
Free Live Music at The Fiddlers Arms
Come along to The Fiddlers Arms every weekend from 9pm and enjoy free live music with something to suit everyone’s tastes! Entry is always free.
Michael McIntyre: Big World Tour Continued - Warm Up Show
Michael McIntyre is continuing his Big World Tour this spring and is warming up with shows around the UK. Catch him at Edinburgh Playhouse on 22nd May!

Advertise With Us

Advertise With Us

Looking to reach new customers? We offer a variety of advertising options with prices starting from just £30 per month!

Click here to find out more »