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International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2022 shortlist announced

Cairo Maquette, Mohsine Loukili, and Mohamed Alnaas are on the shortlist for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2022 announced on March 22, 2022.

The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is the most prestigious literary prize in the Arab world. Its aim is to reward excellence in contemporary Arabic creative writing and to encourage the readership of high-quality Arabic literature internationally through the translation and publication of winning and shortlisted novels in other major languages. 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), Mohammed Hasan Alwan (2017), Ibrahim Nasrallah (2018), and Hoda Barakat (2019).

The panel of judges for 2022 is chaired by Tunisian novelist, academic and previous winner Shukri Mabkhout. Joining him on the judging panel are Libyan doctor, poet and translator Ashur Etwebi, Lebanese writer and PEN International board member Iman Humaydan, Kuwaiti poet and critic Saadiah Mufarreh and Bulgarian academic and translator Baian Rayhanova.

The longlist for the prize was announced on January 26 before the shortlist was revealed. Shukri Mabkhout, Chair of the 2022 Judges, while revealing the shortlist said: “The six novels represent a strikingly diverse range of topics and forms around identity and freedom. Some of them took us on a journey to the past, inspired by the aspirations and struggles of people living in various regions across the Arab world. They depicted the endeavours of marginalized, oppressed or forgotten individuals throughout history, as they sought to forge and change their destinies. Other novelists on this shortlist portrayed freedom from various angles, such as the freedom of imagination to reconstruct a reality in which fantasy and truth intertwine, the freedom of expression and creativity in the face of visible or hidden oppression, and the freedom of individual identity.”

The African shortlistees are;

  • Cairo Maquette, Tareq Imam (Egyptian)
  • The Prisoner of the Portuguese, Mohsine Loukili (Morocco)
  • Bread on the Table of Uncle Milad, Mohamed Alnaas (Libya)

Professor Yasir Suleiman, Chair of the Board of Trustees, said: “This is a daring shortlist of works by writers who have come to the novel from different walks of life, cutting their teeth in various arenas of literary production before delving into extended fiction writing. Decorated by different literary patrons in the Arab world, our shortlistees have dared to probe topics that are frowned upon, adding more credence to the claim that the novel, in the Arab context, is a surrogate form of political and social expression. It would, however, be unfair to ignore the literary merits that captivate the reader in these novels, including the intertwining of multi-voiced narratives and the reimagining of time to express seamless continuity through fracture.”

The winner of the 15th International Prize for Arabic Fiction will be announced on 22 May 2022 at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi that will also be streamed online.

By James Murua

This blog is run by James Murua a Nairobi, Kenya based lover of books.

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