The Edinburgh International Book Festival has just announced the winner of the 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival First Book Award – Kuwaiti author Mai Al-Nakib, for her debut short story collection, The Hidden Light of Objects, published by Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing (BQFP). This is the first time in the Award’s five-year history that it has been conferred on a volume of short stories.
“I am incredibly grateful for this award,” said Mai Al-Nakib in the announcement. “To have my book selected by readers is especially gratifying and encouraging. It means so much to know that readers from all over the world are connecting with The Hidden Light of Objects. This award is especially meaningful to me because it is my first and because it comes from Edinburgh, the city I spent some time in when I was a baby.” Mai Al-Nakib was born in Kuwait in 1970 and has a PhD in English Literature from Brown University, and teaches postcolonial studies and comparative literature at Kuwait University.
The First Book Award “encourages the Book Festival audience to discover the wealth of debut fiction featured in the Festival Programme each year and vote for their favourite. Every one of the 47 adult and young adult writers who brought their debut novel, novella or short stories to Edinburgh in August, including those whose work was published in English for the first time, was eligible for the Award.” The First Book Award was based on votes by readers made at the Festival itself or via the internet, with over 2,200 votes received by the closing date.