Awards: George Washington; Arabic Fiction; Arthur Ellis; Pushkin House

Nathaniel Philbrick has won the $50,000 George Washington Prize, recognizing the best new books about "the nation's founding era," for Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution (Viking).

Prize organizers--George Washington's Mount Vernon, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and Washington College--called Valiant Ambition "a surprising account of the middle years of the American Revolution and the tragic relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold. Philbrick creates a complex, controversial, and dramatic portrait of a people in crisis and of the war that gave birth to a nation. He focuses on loyalty and personal integrity as he explores the relationship between Washington and Arnold--an impulsive but sympathetic hero whose misfortunes at the hands of self-serving politicians fatally destroy his faith in the legitimacy of the rebellion. As a country wary of tyrants suddenly must figure out how it should be led, Washington's unmatched ability to rise above the petty politics of his time enables him to win the war that really matters."


A Small Death by Mohammed Hasan Alwan has won the 2017 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. The book is a fictional account of the life of spiritual teacher Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi, from his birth in Muslim Spain in the 12th century until his death in Damascus and follows his mystic experience and travels.

Chair of the judges Sahar Khalifeh said: "With striking artistry and in captivating language [A Small Death] sheds light on Ibn 'Arabi's view of spiritual and temporal love in their most refined forms. The life of Ibn 'Arabi, the man, evolves and takes shape against the background of a tumultuous historical period filled with wars and conflicts."

Born in Saudi Arabia and living in Toronto, Canada, Alwan has published four novels. The Beaver, which appeared in 2011, was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction; the French translation by Stéphanie Dujols won the Arab World Institute's Prix de la Littérature Arabe in 2015. He has also published a nonfiction book, Migration: Theories and Key Factors (2014).


Crime Writers of Canada announced the shortlists in eight categories for this year's Arthur Ellis Awards, which recognize excellence in Canadian crime writing. Winners will be named May 25 in Toronto.


A shortlist has been unveiled for the £5,000 (about $6,415) Pushkin House Russian Book Prize, which "supports the best nonfiction writing in English on the Russian-speaking world." The winner will be announced June 7 in London. This year's shortlisted titles are:

The House of the Dead by Daniel Beer
The Russian Canvas by Rosalind P. Blakesley
Putin Country by Anne Garrels
Bolshoi Confidential by Simon Morrison
The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore
Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea by Teffi, translated by Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Anne Marie Jackson and Irina Steinberg, with an introduction by Edyth C. Haber 

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