A look at Book Awards in Iran
Jalal Al-e Ahmad, is the most expensive literary prize in Iran. The award, recently completed its fourth edition, however it is not the only literary prize of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Since the previous Jalal Al-e Ahmad Award till its 4th edition, more than 10 state awards have been held. The report will review the literary awards in Iran while it will present conversations with the managing director of Book House Institute, the secretary of Gam-e-Aval festival and the former secretary of the Book of the Year of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
IBNA: Over 10 seasonal, annual and biennial literary awards are held in Iran. The prizes were established in different periods. Ali Shojaei Saein, the managing director of Book House Institute, says that more literary awards will be added by the Institute. Moreover, Javad Mohaghegh, the secretary of Gam-e-Aval award believes the authors from other provinces and small cities should be considered more. Mohammad Reza Sarshar, author and the former secretary of the Book of the Year Award introduces these kinds of awards as the author's motivations.
Shojaei Saein: We seek to establish Professional Awards
Ali Shojaei Saein says some people may think that the number of literary awards are more than usual, but I think this amount should also become more, and even we should establish some professional awards.
Giving examples of these awards Shojaei Saein explained: We are going to establish awards on the Persian books translations done in other countries; and appreciate the best translations of the Persian books throughout the world. Encouraging translators in this field will indeed make the Persian books spread worldwide.
Moreover he talked about the Specialized Book Awards and expressing that this activity began working along with the Persian Gulf Award he added: Beside the general awards, one of our goals is addressing these kinds of awards; I mean the Specialized Book awards.
Then continuing his details, Shojaei Saein refers to honoring the Iranologists and Islamic scholars and said: In the future we have plans to appreciate Iranologists and Islam researchers who have spent their lives in this area and have been active at any related areas from authoring to translation and criticism as well.
Regarding the awards financing which sometimes brings conflicting views about says: I think the most important aspect of literary festivals is to provide a suitable situation in which the author works are to be seen; and the financial issue is of secondary importance. I do not believe that an author writes just to get the prize, and if so and such a goal is at work, it won’t be good.
Referring to Jalal Award as the most financially valuable ones, he added: due to its special thematic attention toward the Persian language and literature as well as to the arts of native writing, this award has gained particular attentions in Iran.
These awards have passed a good developmental trend and have had good impacts on authors quantitatively and in terms of creating fine works as well.
He also considered the Book Criticism Festival as one of the most important literary festivals, and says: authorship community cannot be promoted without a living and dynamic criticism and it is always the sharp looks of critics which makes the promotion of literature possible.
Mohaghegh: “Gam-e-Aval” is to develop
Javad Mohaghegh, the secretary of Gam-e-Aval Award, referring to “decentralization” as one of the objectives of Gam-e-Aval Award says: celebrating Gam-e-Aval Award in provinces will motivate the authors in provincial towns.
He focused on the thematic expansion of this award in the coming years and said: if there is a theme on which the number of noble works meets the least adequate level, the thematic field will be added to the judging areas in the festival.
Selection of the “Top Publisher” is, as Mohaghegh knows, the festival's noticeable point. He says: this innovation leads to create better communication between author and publisher.
Sarshar: Proper Arbitration, is the main requirement of the awards
M. R. Sarshar, writer, literary critic and the former secretary of the Children's Book Festival and "Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults" said: the more the number of the prizes are higher, and the more they are financially valuable the results will be better.
He who has been the book referee in IR of Iran during 16 periods (1983 to 2007), in response to the question that which of the literary awards is typical in his eyes” referring to the two main aspects says: First, everywhere, the financial aspect of any festival is considered. This aspect is important since it causes motivation. Thus, Jalal Al Ahmad Prize is outstanding in this regards. The second aspect is to look at the institution which holds the prize, in fact, who established and supports the award.
Sarshar considers Jalal Al-e Ahmad awards a valuable and rich prize, and says: before holding Jalal prize, the Year Book Awards enjoyed a particular financial significance. In the first period this prize was 14 gold coins and then in the later periods it even awarded 22, 40 and even 50 gold coins to the selected individuals. But Jalal award with 110 gold coins says the first and the last word in this field.
In response to the question that what is the trend of these awards and their impacts on Persian literature; he pointed out to the authorship as a time consuming task and the fact that sometimes an author feels concern about his livelihood and said: The book entitled “The War Road” written by Mansour Anvari won recently Jalal award in the fiction section and perhaps since then, some 2000 copies of it have been published. No doubt, the author has spent much time in writing this work. In my opinion, such awards will have a positive impact on literature and can be motivating in this regards.
Referring to the point that annually about 60000 titles are published as the first edition in Iran he added: these awards cause a number of the books which are deserved and worthy to be well-known and consequently the author’s motivation will promote. Sometimes in their major book purchases, institutions and libraries buy these books as well. In other words, in addition to the spiritual appreciation performed for the winner book, its published copies will also go up and all these factors will lead to promote literature.
A look at Book Awards
What are the state awards, how they are held? Since the third round of Jalal Al-e Ahmad Award, which was held in December last year up to the Forth round held this year, more than 10 other state awards have been held. In this section we review these awards briefly.
Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Award was founded according to the approval by the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution in 1385/2006 and the ceremony is held on November 23, simultaneous with the birthday of the author every year. The award aims to promote the national-religious language and literature through appreciation of the innovative creators of the prominent leading, forward-looking and thinking works. The awards’ regulations are in line with thinking production of Islamic art and literary and reinforcement the morale of scientific criticism in relation to the existing literary and artistic translations. For this Award those books will be reviewed and judged which have been published for the first time during the immediate past year.
The topics assessed by the jury are as follows: long story, short story, literary criticism, documentation and historiography. The prize for the first winner of each of the disciplines is a Jalal Al-e Ahmad Literary Medal, along with the 110 Golden Coins called Bahar-e-Azadi.
The first round of Jalal Al-e- Ahmad Award was held on November 23 2008 at Vahdat Hall, in Tehran, and so far four rounds of it has been held.
Parvin Award has also passed four rounds since then. Last year, since it became a biennial event, the ceremony wasn’t held. This year the fifth round of this prize is to be held. Parvin Etesami Literary Award was held in 2004 by the efforts of the Department of Cultural Affairs of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and was started at the Office of Communities and Cultural Activities. Its first round was held on August 6th, that year. Since 2006 so far the award is held biennially on 15 March.
The prize’s Secretariat arbitrates the books written by women from throughout the country in five branches of research literature, drama, fiction, poetry and children's literature (including authoring and translation works). The purpose of holding the literary award, in addition to honor the renowned Iranian poet, Parvin Etesami; is growth and promotion of women's literary creativities, strengthening Persian language abroad, linking the nations’ literatures, especially in the Muslim world, introducing the women’s literary prominent figures and researchers and also appreciation of women in the field of Persian Language and Literature.
The Season Book Award was started from 2007 and is held once a season, or four times a year and introduces its top winners in any of the following sections such as: art, Social Sciences, Applied Sciences, Pure Sciences, Philosophy, Psychology, religion, Literature, Children & Adolescences, History & Geography and Generalities. Seventeen rounds of these awards have been held so far. The eighteenth round of this award is to be held, late December, this year.
Book of the Year Award, as the name suggests, is held once every year. The award begun in 1983 with an aim of promoting Islamic culture, independence and cultural identity as well as encouraging and supporting the authors, translators and editors of the country.
This award is held in 11 sectors including art, philosophy (Islam and the West), psychology, literature, religion, social sciences, pure sciences, applied sciences, history and geography, children & adolescences, language and generalities.
Since 1993 another award has been included in the policies of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. This prize under the name of the IRI Year Book International Award is awarded simultaneous with the Year Book Award and at the same ceremony.
Last week, the 8th festival of Criticism was held in the House of Literary at the Book House. This award is held annually in late autumn in the areas of poetry, fiction, Persian literature, Arabic literature, philosophy, science& technology, children & young adults, linguistics, art, religion, history and geography, social sciences and generalities as well.
The growing trend of book production and the urgency of reviewing their content values on the one hand; and the need to stabilize the scientific criticism and enculturation to accept its results on the other hand, led the Book House Institution to be the custodian in releasing the collections of specialized publications on Book Criticism and to be its trend maker in the country.
The literary prize of Gam-e-Aval was founded in 2006 and its first round was held in the next October that year. Book House has founded the award of Gam-e- Aval in order to promote reading culture, discover Talents, create the needed context, leading , accelerating and promoting the written culture in the society as well as encouraging and introducing new authors in 2006.
The award aims to judge and assess the works of those authors who have for the first time committed in writing in the fields of poetry, fiction and religion for the age of adult and children; and have published their work. Book House Institution is indeed the executor and arbitrator of the award and along with one of the centers of provinces in the country. Each autumn the institute appreciates the winners of Gam-e-Aval Award.
The first ceremony of Gam-e-Aval Awards was held in October 2006 in Ardebil province, and the last round (the 5th round), was held in Sanandaj, in November, this year.
Persian Gulf Book Award which has recently been founded by the Book House Foundation, held its first round in the spring this year. Persian Gulf Prize is held every two years. This award includes several sections such as history, geography, poetry and stories, and dissertation to special attention to Persian Gulf. In the first period of this award seven works were selected. The next round of this award will be held in the spring of 1392/2013.
Among the other awards ceremonies held during last year, the 19th Superior Medium and Book Award and the 5th round of Book and National Medium Award are worthy to be mentioned.
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