Awards: International Prize for Arabic Fiction, the 2022 Shortlist

In News by Porter Anderson

The shortlist places a book from the United Arab Emirates into contention, a first at the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Suleiman: ‘A Daring Shortlist’
The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) today (March 22) has released its shortlist.

The Prize for Arabic Fiction is now in its 15th iteration and has released its 2022 shortlist of six titles, from as many countries.

The award program provides a purse of US$50,000 to its winner and its shortlisted titles come from Egypt, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. This is the first time that a work from the UAE has been shortlisted by this prize regime.

The shortlist includes on debut publication and two authors who formerly were in the prize’s Nadwa seminar program. All the authors named today are shortlisted for the first time.

In addition to the honor of winning, this program carries translation funding for its winners’ books to support their distribution in the English language.

International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2022 Shortlist
Author Title Country of Origin Publisher
Tarek Imam Cairo Maquette Egypt Al-Mutawassit
Reem al-Kamali Rose’s Diary United Arab Emirates Dar al-Adab
Bushra Khalfan Dilshad Oman Takween-Iraq
Mohsine Loukili The Prisoner of the Portuguese Morocco Dar Mim
Khaled Nasrallah The White Line of Night Kuwait Dar Al Saqi
Mohammed Alnaas Bread on the Table of Uncle Milad Libya Rashm

The 2022 jury is chaired by the Tunisian novelist, academic and previous Prize for Arabic Fiction winner (The Italian, 2015) Shukri Mabkhout.

He’s 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

Shukri Mabkhout

Mabkhout, speaking for the jury, says, “These 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 endeavors 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.”

Yasir Suleiman

And Yasir Suleiman, chair of the board, says, “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 is to be announced on May 22 at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi that’s expected to be streamed online.

The International Prize for Arabic Fiction program is an independent charity based in the United Kingdom. It receives some funding from Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, which is chaired by Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, who is also secretary-general of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award.

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 56th awards report published in the 57 days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.

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.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.