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International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2023 shortlist announced.

The shortlist for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2023 has been announced today, March 1, 2023.

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), Hoda Barakat (2019), and Mohamed Alnaas (2022).

The jury for 2023 chaired by Moroccan writer and novelist, Mohammed Achaari includes Egyptian academic and novelist Reem Bassiouney, Algerian novelist, researcher and journalist Fadhila El Farouk, Swedish university professor and translator Tetz Rooke, and Omani writer and academic Aziza al-Ta’I. They announced the longlist on January 24 before the shortlist was revealed today. Those who made the list are;

  • Fatima Abdulhamid (Saudi Arabia), The Highest Part of the Horizon, Masciliana – UAE
  • Al-Sadiq Haj Ahmed (Algeria), Drought, Dar Dwaya
  • Zahran Alqasmi (Oman), The Exile of the Water Diviner, Rashm
  • Najwa Binshatwan (Libya), Concerto Qurina Eduardo, Takween – Iraq
  • Azhar Jerjis (Iraq), The Stone of Happiness, Dar Al-Rafidain – Lebanon
  • Miral al-Tahawy (Egypt), Days of the Shining Sun, Dar al-Ain

Mohammed Achaari, Chair of the 2023 Judges, commented:

The scope of the 2023 shortlisted novels is vibrant and varied. The Stone of Happiness shines a light on how children and the weak bear the burden of society disintegrating after war and sectarian struggles. The Exile of the Water Diviner focuses on water and its symbolism in the collective memory. Days of the Shining Sun explores migration and upheaval, through people trapped between the hardships of their places of origin and the violence of their places of exile. Concerto Qurina Eduardo is an intimate portrait of human struggle in the face of injustice and political despotism, where the hell of the present seems only to signal a hellish future. The Highest Part of the Heavens charts the terrors of death, and of love, and their constant intersections. Finally, Drought transports us to the world of the Sahara between southern Algeria and northern Mali, where drought, famine and tribalism mirror the brutal and fragile nature of the desert. The judges feel that through this multiplicity of voices and idiom, with contrasting styles, structure and narrative forms, the broad sweep which these stories comprise offers a dynamic snapshot of the contemporary Arabic novel.

The winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction will be announced on Sunday, May 21, 2023, 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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