Rabee Jaber’s ‘Druze of Belgrade’ wins 2012 Arabic Booker
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ABU DHABI — The 2012 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, popularly called the “Arabic Booker,” was awarded to prolific Lebanese novelist Rabee Jaber on Tuesday night for his novel “Druze of Belgrade.”

At a press conference following the ceremony, a reporter asked Jaber for his reaction. Jaber said that, “Actually, I’d hoped to be the winner two years ago with the novel ‘America.’ But it seems that Hanna Yacoub, the protagonist of ‘Druze of Belgrade,’ was a happier person.”

The winning novelist was visibly uncomfortable in the spotlight. For the most part, he managed to evade reporters’ questions. But in a short documentary about the six shortlisted novelists that was played during the ceremony, Jaber described himself as a reader more than a writer, “in spite of writing 17, 18 novels.” As he was filmed, he was seated in a personal library crammed with books.

Jaber has written a number of acclaimed novels, including “America,” which was shortlisted for the IPAF in 2010, and three books that will be translated into English and published by New Directions: “The Mehlis Report,” “Beirut,” and this year’s IPAF-winning “Druze of Belgrade.”