The International Prize for Arabic Fiction announced the longlist of 16 novels for the 2018 Prize on Wednesday 17 January 2018 with five Africans in the running. They are Egyptians Ahmed Abdel Latif and Rasha Adly, Sudan’s Amir Tag Elsir and Hamed al-Nazir, and Algeria’s Amin Zaoui.
The International Prize for Arabic Fiction, given to a novel in Arabic which judges consider to be the best of that year, is the most prestigious and important literary prize in the Arab world. The prize, launched in 2007, is run with the support, as its mentor, of the Booker Prize Foundation in London and sponsored by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi. Previous winners include Bahaa Taher (2008), Yusuf Zeydan (2009), Abdo Khal (2010), Mohammed Achaari (2011), Rabee Jaber (2012), Saud Alsanousi (2013), Ahmed Saadawi (2014), Shukri Mabkhout (2015), Rabai al-Madhoun (2016), and Mohammed Hasan Alwan (2017).
The prize this year have made two announcements. They are the judges who are Ibrahim Al Saafin (Chief Judge); Inam Bioud, an Algerian academic, translator, novelist and poet; Jamal Mahjoub, a Sudanese-English writer and novelist; Mahmoud Shukair, a Palestinian short story writer and novelist; and Barbara Skubic, a Slovenian writer and translator.
They have also announced the novels that have made the longlist which were chosen from 124 entries from 14 countries, all published between July 2016 and June 2017. The full list includes;
- Ahmed Abdel Latif (Egypt), The Earthen Fortress, Dar al-Ain
- Atef Abu Saif (Palestine), Christina, Al Ahlia
- Rasha Adly (Egypt), Passion, Arab Scientific Publishers
- Fadi Azzam (Syria), Huddud’s House, Dar al-Adab
- Antoine Douaihy (Lebanon), The Last Country, Arab Scientific Publishers
- Amir Tag Elsir (Sudan), Flowers Consumed by Fire, Dar Al Saqi
- Aziz Mohammed (Saudi Arabia), The Critical Case of “K”, Dar Tanweer, Lebanon.
- Ibrahim Nasrallah (Palestine), The Second War of the Dog, Arab Scientific Publishers
- Amjad Nasser (Jordan), Here is the Rose, Dar al-Adab
- Hamed al-Nazir (Sudan), The Black Peacock, Medad
- Shahad Al Rawi (Iraq), Baghdad Clock, Dar al-Hikma, London
- Taleb al-Refai (Kuwait), Al-Najdi, That al-Salasil
- Walid Shurafa (Palestine), Heir of the Tombstones, Al Ahlia
- Dima Wannous (Syria) The Frightened Ones, Dar al-Adab
- Hussein Yassin (Palestine), Ali, the Story of an Honourable Man, Dar al-Ru’aat
- Amin Zaoui (Algeria), Leg Over Leg – in the Sighting of the Lovers’ Crescent, Al-Ikhtilef
Speaking on the longlist Ibrahim Al Saafin said:
“‘The novels on the longlist are thematically and stylistically varied: realistic, fantastical, historical and social, but all in their different ways tackling Arab reality and the challenges faced by Arab societies on political, cultural and human levels, as well as grappling with questions of identity. They bring to life the tragic distortions and dreams of these societies, delving deep into the past to throw light on current issues.’
The shortlist will be announced in February. The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony held at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday 24 April, the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. The six shortlisted finalists will receive $10,000, with a further $50,000 going to the winner.