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Hoda Barakat

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Hoda Barakat
هدى بركات
Born1952 (age 71–72)
Occupation(s)writer, novelist

Hoda Barakat (Arabic: هدى بركات) (born 1952) is a Lebanese novelist. She lived most of her early life in Beirut before moving to Paris, where she now resides. She has published six novels, two plays, a book of short stories, and a book of memoirs.[1] Her works are originally written in Arabic and have been translated into English, Hebrew, French, Italian, Spanish, Turkish, Romanian, Dutch, and Greek.[2]

Her work often explores themes of trauma and war; three of her early novels are narrated by male characters living in the margins of society during the Lebanese civil war.[3]


Barakat was raised in the Maronite Christian town of Bsharré, Lebanon. After moving to Beirut, Barakat studied French Literature at the Lebanese University, from which she graduated in 1975.[4] In 1975 and 1976, she lived in Paris, where she worked towards a PhD, but she decided to return home when the Lebanese Civil War started.[citation needed] During this period, she worked as a teacher, translator, and journalist. In 1985, she released her first formal publication, a collection of short stories called Za'irat ("Women Visitors").[citation needed]

She moved back to Paris in 1989 and has lived there ever since, publishing her remaining works from Paris, including Hajar al-Dahik (The Stone of Laughter, 1990) and Ahl el-Hawa (People of Love, 1993), among others. In addition to writing, she has also worked in radio broadcasting.[4]

In 2004, she visited the United Kingdom on the first Banipal Live UK tour.[5] Between 2010 and 2011, she was appointed as a fellow[6] in Nantes Institute for Advanced Study Foundation.[citation needed] In fall 2013, Barakat was appointed the first Arabic Scholar in Residence at the University of Texas at Austin Middle Eastern Studies Program.[7] She was also recently visiting professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Dartmouth College and Artist in Residence at the Institute for Advanced Study at Central European University.[8][9]

Personal life[edit]

She married the poet Mohammad El Abdallah (Arabic: محمد العبدالله), whom she met in college.[10] She acquired French nationality by naturalization on 24 March 1998.[11]

Works translated into English[edit]

  • The Stone of Laughter, Interlink Books, New York, 1995, ISBN 9781566561976
  • The Tiller of Waters, American University in Cairo Press, Cairo, 2001, ISBN 9789774246906
  • Disciples of Passion, Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, 2005, ISBN 9780815608332
  • Hoda Barakat's Sayyidi wa habibi: the authorized abridged edition for students of Arabic, Georgetown University Press, Washington DC, 2013, ISBN 9781626160026
  • Voices of the Lost, Oneworld, London, 2021 ISBN 9781786077226


Barakat's first work Hajar al-Dahik (The Stone of Laughter), which is the first Arabic work to have a gay man as its main character, won the Al-Naqid prize.

Her third novel, Harit al-miyah (The Tiller of Waters), won the 2001 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature.[2]

Her 2019 novel Bareed Al-Layl ("The Night Mail") won the 2019 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF); it was thereafter translated into English by Marilyn Booth and published in English under the title Voices of the Lost.[12] Barakat is the second woman to have ever won the IPAF.[1] She was previously longlisted for the IPAF in 2013, for her novel Malakoot hadhahi al-ard ("The Kingdom of This Earth").[13]

She was decorated with the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2002 and the Chevalier de l'Ordre national du Mérite in 2008.[14][1]


  1. ^ a b c Chandler, Mark (23 April 2019). "Barakat becomes second woman to win International Prize for Arabic Fiction". The Bookseller. Retrieved 2022-04-12.
  2. ^ a b Hoda Barakat Archived 2007-09-26 at the Wayback Machine (Festivaletteratura) Accessed: March 4, 2007.
  3. ^ "Modern Arab writers: Hoda Barakat". al-bab.com. Retrieved 2017-12-16.
  4. ^ a b "Banipal (UK) Magazine of Modern Arab Literature - Contributors - Hoda Barakat". www.banipal.co.uk. Retrieved 2022-04-12.
  5. ^ Hoda Barakat Archived 2008-05-07 at the Wayback Machine (Banipal Magazine) Accessed: March 4, 2007.
  6. ^ Nantes IAS fellowship
  7. ^ New Arabic Scholar in Residence Program Brings Hoda Barakat, Fall 2013 (University of Texas at Austin) Accessed: February 1, 2014.
  8. ^ "Hoda Barakat on why her stories focus on the displaced: 'I wanted to really listen'". The National. 2021-02-09. Retrieved 2022-04-12.
  9. ^ "IAS Artist in Residence Hoda Barakat Wins the International Prize for Arabic Fiction | Central European University". www.ceu.edu. Retrieved 2022-04-12.
  10. ^ "ما لا تعرفه عن هدى بركات .. من هي؟ سيرتها الذاتية، إنجازاتها وأقوالها، معلومات عن هدى بركات". أراجيك (in Arabic). Retrieved 2020-10-25.
  11. ^ "JORF n° 0071 du 25 mars 1998 - Légifrance" (PDF). legifrance.gouv.fr (in French). p. 4484. Retrieved 2024-01-03.
  12. ^ "Al Araby reviews Hoda Barakat's Night post "Hoda Barakat does it again"! | R A Y A | agency for Arabic literature". Retrieved 2022-04-12.
  13. ^ "Hoda Barakat | International Prize for Arabic Fiction". www.arabicfiction.org. Retrieved 2022-04-12.
  14. ^ Hoda Barakat Archived 2014-02-04 at the Wayback Machine (International Prize for Arabic Fiction) Accessed February 1, 2014.

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