Shahad Al Rawi's compelling debut novel The Baghdad Clock has won Edinburgh Book Festival's First Book Award. 

The winner was chosen from the 49 debut novels and short story collections for adults and young adults eligible for the Award this year.

“I’m extremely happy to receive the news of winning the 2018 First Book Award from the Edinburgh International Book Festival.” Shahad Al Rawi said.  “I’m very proud for two reasons; first because this prize came from the Edinburgh International Book Festival itself. Secondly, because the competition was extremely strong and the books drew on so many different subjects.   I want to thank my readers from all around the world for choosing my novel. In addition, I’d especially like to thank Oneworld for taking so much care with The Baghdad Clock, translating and publishing it in English. 

“Edinburgh International Book Festival is one of the most important festivals in the world,” she continued. “It has the best reputation, and I’m very grateful that I was part of it this year. I was so happy to participate in all the activities and very impressed by how well organized it was.  Most of all I was enchanted by the people.  I wish every success to the Edinburgh International Book Festival in the coming years to continue creating bridges between writers and readers. I loved everything about the City of Edinburgh and it’s a great honour to be connected to it by this prestigious prize that carries its name.”

Edinburgh International Book Festival, said “To tell stories is a fundamental part of the human condition. Even in extreme situations like the one portrayed in Shahad’s novel, it’s stories that keep people going. Maybe that’s why her novel is so affecting and so powerful. The Baghdad Clock is not just a popular winner with Edinburgh International Book Festival readers this year: it’s also a brilliant winner that will live long in the memory – and it establishes Shahad Al Rawi as a force to be reckoned with, in Arabic and English alike.”

More about the Edinburgh Book Festival's First Book Award here.