Literary debut prize for Afghan-Dutch Forugh Karimi Yesterday, 21:01 in Culture & Media Karimi, who fled Afghanistan more than 25 years ago, has been awarded the Hebban Debut Prize for her novel ‘The Mothers of Mahipar’.

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Award winner Karimi surrounded by two members of the jury
NOS News

Writer Forugh Karimi won the Hebban Debut Prize this year with her novel The Mothers of Mahipar. Her book was chosen by a professional jury over four other literary debuts that had been nominated. Karimi was awarded the prize tonight during a writers’ ball in Amsterdam.

The Mothers of Mahipar is about a radiologist who fled Afghanistan to the Netherlands with his mother as a toddler. It is not until his mother dies that he learns more about their origins and past through her diaries.

The jury speaks of “a wry, but above all very loving story”, with impressive passages “that haunt for a long time”. In addition, according to the jury, Karimi paints a harrowing and nuanced picture of the loneliness and powerlessness of refugees who have had to leave their families behind.

Zwagerman and Nijhoff

Like her main characters, the writer Karimi is a refugee from Afghanistan. She came to the Netherlands in 1996 at the age of 25 and became a psychiatrist.

Karimi has been writing articles and essays in both Farsi and Dutch for years and has translated work by Joost Zwagerman and Martinus Nijhoff, among others. At the beginning of last year she published her first novel, The Mothers of Mahipar.

Spit and Van Iperen

The Hebban Debuutprijs is an initiative of book site Hebban and is intended for the best literary fiction debut of the past year. A panel of over a hundred readers chooses a shortlist of five nominees, after which a jury of experts, including reviewers and booksellers, determines the winner.

The prize was first awarded in 2016. Previous winners include Lize Spit and Roxane van Iperen. Last year Koen Caris won with Stone Food.

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