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‘Bread on Uncle Milad’s Table’ by debut Libyan novelist wins top Arabic Fiction prize

‘Bread on Uncle Milad’s Table’ by Libyan debut novelist Mohamed Alnaas was announced on Sunday as the winner of the 2022 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), reported Emirates News Agency (WAM).
The award is for the best work of fiction published in Arabic between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.
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The novel, published by Rashm with support from the Libyan Arete Foundation, was named as this year’s winner by the judges chairman Shukri Mabkhout during a ceremony in Abu Dhabi that was also streamed online.
In addition to being awarded $50,000, funding will be provided for the English translation of ‘Bread on Uncle Milad’s Table,’ leading to a possiblee boost in book sales and international recognition for the writer Alnaas.
A further $50,000 prize money will be divided between five other shortlisted novelists>
The prize, is publicly funded by Abu Dhabi and was first launched in 2007. At 31, Alnaas is the youngest writer to win the prize and the first Libyan.

‘Bread on Uncle Milad’s Table’ was chosen from a shortlist of six novels by authors from Egypt, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Oman and, for the first time, the UAE. The shortlisted finalists Khalid Al Nassrallah, Tareq Imam, Reem Al Kamali, Bushra Khalfan and Mohsine Loukili will each receive $10,000.

Unique story

‘Bread on Uncle Milad’s Table’ is a unique story based in Libya. In the closed society of his village, Milad strives to live up to the definition of ideal masculinity, as his society views it. However, after all his best efforts, he fails to be ‘a man,’ and after meeting his sweetheart and wife-to-be, Zeinab, decides to forget about this definition and be himself.
Living at home, he performs the tasks which his society reserves for women, while Zeinab works and supports the family. Milad is unaware of how he is mocked in the village until his nephew breaks it to him. ‘Bread on Uncle Milad’s Table’ questions static ideas of gender and champions the individual in the face of destructive ideas adopted by the majority.
Tunisian novelist, academic and previous IPAF winner (The Italian, 2015) Shukri Mabkhout, Chair of the 2022 Judges, said: “The winning novel is written in the form of confessions of personal experience. Its plethora of detail is deftly unified by a gripping narrative. This offers a deep and meticulous critique of prevailing concepts of masculinity and femininity and the division of work between men and women, and the effect of these on both a psychological and social level. It falls into the category of novels which question cultural norms about gender. However, it is embedded in its local Arab context and steers away from any ideological treatment of the issues, as such a treatment would be contrary to the way in which fiction can present multiple points of view.”
Professor Yasir Suleiman, Chair of the Board of Trustees, said: “‘Bread on Uncle Milad’s Table’ is the captivating story of one man, Milad, who ponders on his life as it unfolds in an outwardly fractured but seamlessly braided continuum at the subterranean level. The narrative carries the reader effortlessly through Milad’s journey, with its many twists and turns, revealing his alienation from the norms of a society that values a manly interpretation of masculinity.”
“Never affected, the language of the novel is an excellent testimony to the malleability of the high register of the Arabic language and its ability to deal with intimate matters of the body and soul with naturalness and ease. Sometimes wistful, but always lyrical, the narrative succeeds in evoking a conflicted cultural fabric that fuses time with place in a Libyan milieu that speaks to and for Arabs everywhere,” Prof. Suleiman added.

First novel

Mohamed Alnaas is a short story writer and journalist from Libya, born in 1991. He obtained a BA in Electrical Engineering from the University of Tripoli in 2014, and his short story collection ‘Blue Blood’ was published in 2020.
‘Bread on Uncle Milad’s Table’ (2021) was written in just six months during lockdown, says Alnaas, and whilst Tripoli was under bombardment.
He says writing the book was his “refuge from insanity” amidst the news of COVID-19 pandemic and war.

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Lindsay Lohan celebrates birthday as married woman to Dubai resident Bader Shammas

Actress Lindsay Lohan is celebrating her 36th birthday on Saturday as a married woman.

The “Freaky Friday” star said she was the “luckiest woman in the world” in an Instagram post Friday that pictured her with financier Bader Shammas, who had been her fiance.

“I am stunned that you are my husband,” Lohan said in the post, adding that “every woman should feel like this everyday.”

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The couple had announced their engagement last November. People magazine and Entertainment Tonight confirmed there had been a wedding, but no details were offered.

While still single a few years ago, Lohan told Entertainment Tonight that she was looking for “a smart businessman” and someone who doesn’t like the spotlight. Shammas’ Instagram account is private.

The “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen” actress and sometimes singer has worked through some sobriety issues in recent years, and has recently filmed a romantic comedy that is due to be released on Netflix later this year.

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Dutch university gets cyber ransom money back with interest

A Dutch university that fell victim to a massive ransomware attack has partly received back its stolen money, which in the meantime more than doubled in value, a news report said on Saturday.

The southern Maastricht University in 2019 was hit by a large cyberattack in which criminals used ransomware, a type of malicious software that locks valuable data and can only be accessed once the victim pays a ransom amount.

“The criminals had encrypted hundreds of Windows servers and backup systems, preventing 25,000 students and employees from accessing scientific data, library and mail,” the daily De Volkskrant said.

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The hackers demanded 200,000 euros ($208,000) in bitcoins.

“After a week the university decide to accede to the criminal gang’s demand,” the paper said.

“This was partly because personal data was in danger of being lost and students were unable to take an exam or work on their theses,” it said.

Dutch police traced part of the ransom paid to an account belonging to a money launderer in Ukraine.

Prosecutors in 2020 seized this man’s account, which contained a number of different crypto currencies including part of the ransom money paid by Maastricht.

“When, now after more than two years, it was finally possible to get that money to the Netherlands, the value had increased from 40,000 euros to half-a-million euros,” the paper said.

Maastricht University will now get the 500,000 euros ($521,000) back.

“This money will not go to a general fund, but into a fund to help financially strapped students,” Maastricht University ICT director Michiel Borgers said.

The investigation into the hackers responsible for the attack on the university is still ongoing, De Volkskrant added.

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Singer R. Kelly sues Brooklyn jail for putting him on suicide watch

R. Kelly on Friday sued the Brooklyn jail that has housed him since his racketeering and sex crimes conviction, saying it wrongly put him on suicide watch after he received a 30-year prison sentence despite knowing he was not suicidal.

In a complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court, the 55-year-old multiplatinum R&B singer said officials at the Metropolitan Detention Center ordered the watch after his June 29 sentencing “solely for punitive purposes” and because he was a “high-profile” inmate.

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Kelly’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean quoted a prosecutor as saying the jail’s legal counsel had told her that “per the psychology department, is on a psych alert for various reasons, such as age, crime, publicity and sentencing.” No timetable was provided.

Bonjean wasn’t satisfied with the explanation. “Simply put, MDC Brooklyn is run like a gulag,” she wrote.

Kelly said the “harsh conditions” he faced led to “severe mental distress,” and amounted to cruel and unusual punishment that violated the US Constitution’s Eighth Amendment.

He is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, though the docket suggests Kelly is seeking $100 million.

The jail did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Known for the 1996 Grammy-winning hit “I Believe I Can Fly,” Kelly was convicted last September on one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which bars transporting people across state lines for prostitution.

Prosecutors said Kelly exploited his stardom and wealth over two decades to lure women and underage girls into his orbit for sex, with the help of his entourage.

Kelly said he was also put on suicide watch after his conviction.

Ghislaine Maxwell, another inmate at the Brooklyn jail, was placed on suicide watch on June 24, four days before being sentenced to 20 years in prison for aiding financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of underage girls.

Maxwell’s lawyer said the British socialite had been given a “suicide smock” and deprived of clothing, toothpaste and soap though she too was not suicidal.

Friday’s filings did not say what specific conditions Kelly faced.

Kelly still faces an August trial in Chicago federal court on child pornography and obstruction charges, and various state charges in Illinois and Minnesota.

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