By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Yasir Suleiman: ‘The Unresolved Questions’The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) is one of the programs of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, which is chaired by Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, who is also secretary-general of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award. The Prize for Arabic Fiction is now in its 15th iteration and has released its 2022 longlist of 16 titles.
The award program provides a purse of US$50,000 to its winner. Longlisted titles by authors ranging in age from 36 to 65 come from nine countries: Algeria, Egypt, Eritrea, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates. The lead lies with Egypt, at four of the 16 titles on the longlist.
In addition to the honor of winning, this program carries critical translation funding for its winners’ books to support their distribution in the English language.
There are two former nominees of the program on this year’s longlist. Ezzedine Choukri Fishere was longlisted in 2009 for Intensive Care and shortlisted in 2012 for Embrace on Brooklyn Bridge. Haji Jabir was longlisted in 2019 for Black Foam. In addition, two of the longlistees this year are past participants in the prize’s “Nadwa” writers’ workshop for younger writers from the Arab world. They are Tarek Imam and Reem al-Kamali.
The 16 novels—from an initial pool of 122 entries—have been placed onto the longlist by a 2022 jury chaired by the Tunisian novelist, academic and previous Prize for Arabic Fiction winner (The Italian, 2015) Shukri Mabkhout.
He is accompanied on the panel by:
- Libyan doctor, poet and translator Ashur Etwebi
- Lebanese writer and PEN International board member Iman Humaydan
- Kuwaiti poet and critic Saadiah Mufarreh
- Bulgarian academic and translator Baian Rayhanova
International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2022 Longlist
|Author||Title||Country of Origin||Publisher|
|Nizar Aghri||In Search of Azar||Syria||Al Kotob Khan|
|Boumediene Belkebir||The Alley of the Italians||Algeria||Al-Ikhtilef|
|Yaa’rab al-Eissa||The White Minaret||Syria||Al-Mutawassit|
|Belal Fadl||Mother of Mimi||Egypt||Dar al-Mada|
|Ezzedine Choukri Fishere||Farah’s Story||Egypt||Dar al-Shorouk|
|Tarek Imam||Cairo Maquette||Egypt||Al-Mutawassit|
|Haji Jabir||The Abyssinian Rimbaud||Eritrea||Takween-Kuwait|
|Reem al-Kamali||Rose’s Diary||United Arab Emirates||Dar al-Adab|
|Mohsine Loukili||The Prisoner of the Portuguese||Morocco||Dar Mim|
|Khaled Nasrallah||The White Line of Night||Kuwait||Dar Al Saqi|
|Mohammed al-Nu’as||Bread on the Table of Uncle Milad||Libya||Rashm|
|Rouchdi Reouane||The Hungarian||Algeria||Dar al-Ain|
|Mona al-Shammari||The Maids of the Shrine||Kuwait||Dar Al Saqi|
|Dima al-Shukr||Where Is My Name?||Syria||Dar al-Adab|
|Mohamed Tawfik||The Whisper of the Scorpion||Egypt||Dar al-Ain|
Commentary on the 2022 Longlist
In a prepared statement, jury chair Mabkhout is quoted, saying, “Submissions for the prize this year were of high quality, proving once again that the revival and development of the Arabic novel make it the best literary genre to give expression to the concerns of Arab peoples today, in their different local environments.
“The longlist chosen by the judges presents readers and those interested in the Arabic novel with a rich and varied literary feast, representing different types of fictional endeavor by Arab novelists in the past year. It stands out for its variety, wit, inventiveness, and concern with form as well as content.
“Some of these writers have built tight plots, demonstrating deftness in their construction, while others resorted to complete fragmentation, showing a clear bent for experimentation.
“After turning the last pages of these books, readers will be unable to forget their appealing, carefully portrayed, and multi-dimensional protagonists, with their undeniable, rich humanity.
And Yasir Suleiman, chair of the board of trustees, is quoted, saying, “The novels on the longlist continue to explore a range of themes that deal with fracture and the unresolved questions that have bedeviled the relationship of Arab society and culture with its various strands and with the external ‘other.’
“Voices from the margins of society are made to speak and question in different registers of exclusion and resistance that articulate the feeling of alienation, bewilderment, and at the margins some nascent hope.
“Despite their considerable local achievements on the Arab literary scene, authors on this list are poised to be celebrated by a broad pan-Arab readership at home and in the diaspora.”
It’s anticipated that a shortlist of six titles will be presented by the jury in March, with a winner to be named in May.
Winning novels published in English include:
- Hoda Barakat’s The Night Mail (translated as Voices of the Lost, from Juliet Mabey’s Oneworld)
- Rabai al-Madhoun’s Fractured Destinies: Concerto of the Holocaust and Al Nakba (Hoopoe)
- Mabkhout’s The Italian (Europa Editions)
- Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad (Oneworld, United Kingdom, and Penguin Books, United States)
- Youssef Ziedan’s Azazeel (Atlantic Books)
Additional publications include:
- Saud Alsanousi’s The Bamboo Stalk
- Mohammed Achaari’s The Arch and the Butterfly
- Raja Alem’s The Dove’s Necklace (Duckworth, UK, and Overlook Press, US)
- Abdo Khal’s Spewing Sparks as Big as Castles
- Bahaa Taher’s Sunset Oasis (Sceptre)
According to International Prize for Arab Fiction organizers, 2021 saw the publication into English of several novels recognized by the prize, including:
- Sarajevo Firewood by Said Khatibi (shortlisted 2020), translated by Paul Starkey and published by Banipal Books
- Aziz Mohammed’s The Critical Case of a Man Called ‘K’ (shortlisted 2018) translated by Humphrey Davies and published by Hoopoe
- All the Women Inside Me by Jana Elhassan (shortlisted 2013 as Me, She and the Other Women) and Summer with the Enemy by Shahla Ujayli (shortlisted 2019), both translated by Michelle Hartman and published by Interlink Books (USA)
- Hot Maroc by Yassin Adnan (longlisted 2017), translated by Alexander E. Elinson and published by Syracuse University Press
- The Book Smuggler by Omaima Al-Khamis (longlisted as Voyage of the Cranes in the Cities of Agate in 2019), translated by Sarah Enany and published by Hoopoe
As Publishing Perspectives readers know, Enany’s translation of Rasha Adly’s 2018-longlisted novel Passion (translated as The Girl With the Braided Hair) has been announced this month as the winner of the 2021 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation.
It’s expected that this year’s publication news related to the International Prize for Arabic Fiction will include:
- The publication in English of Jalal Barjas’ Notebooks of the Bookseller (winner of the 2021 prize) and The King of India by Jabbour Douaihy (shortlisted 2020), both by Michel Moushabeck’s Interlink
- Douaihy’s 2012-shortlisted novel The Vagrant is also to be published by Seagull
- Other titles include two shortlisted books from 2021, The Calamity of the Nobility by Amira Ghenim (Europa Editions) and The Bird Tattoo by Dunya Mikhail (US publisher Pegasus)
In addition, Interlink has acquired the English-language rights for Tashari by Inaam Kachachi (shortlisted 2014), while Gallimard has secured French rights for Kachachi’s 2019-shortlisted novel The Outcast.
More from Publishing Perspectives on the International Prize for Arabic Fiction is here, and more on publishing and book prizes in general is here. More on translation is here, and more on Arabic in the publishing world is here.
More from Publishing Perspectives on the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is here.