Longlist, judges and dates announced for International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2017


The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) has today, Monday 16 January 2017, revealed the longlist of 16 novels in contention for the 2017 prize. The novels selected were chosen from 186 entries from 19 countries, all published within the last 12 months. The longlist was chosen by a panel of five judges chaired by Palestinian novelist Sahar Khalifa.

Of the 16 authors chosen, many are recognisable names with three having been shortlisted for the Prize previously – Mohammed Hasan Alwan, Sinan Antoon and Amir Tag Elsir – and a further five previously longlisted – Renée Hayek, Ismail Fahd Ismail, Abdul-Kareem Jouaity, Elias Khoury and Mohammed Abdel Nabi. Their repeated recognition by the Prize demonstrates the enduring quality of their writing.

Yassin Adnan, although a well-known poet, makes his first appearance on the list with his debut novel, Hot Maroc. Meanwhile, Sultan Al Ameemi began writing his longlisted book, One Room Is Not Enough, at the 2014 Nadwa – an annual writing workshop for talented, emerging writers that is supported by the Prize. Other Nadwa attendees on the list include Ali Ghadeer and Mohammed Hasan Alwan, who is the youngest writer to be selected. This year’s successful authors represent 10 countries across the Arab world and range in age from 37 to 76.

The full 2017 longlist, with author names in alphabetical order, is as follows:

 Author, Title, Country of origin, Publisher

  • Yassin Adnan, Hot Maroc, Morocco, Dar al-Ain
  • Sultan Al Ameemi, One Room Is Not Enough, UAE, Difaf Publishing
  • Mohammed Hasan Alwan, A Small Death, Saudi Arabia, Dar Al Saqi
  • Sinan Antoon, Index, Iraq, Al-Jamal
  • Najwa Binshatwan, The Slave Pens, Libya, Dar Al Saqi
  • Amir Tag Elsir, The Witches' Resort, Sudan, Dar Al Saqi
  • Ali Ghadeer, Swastika, Iraq, Dar wa Maktabat Sutur
  • Renée Hayek, The Year of the Radio, Lebanon, Dar Tanweer, Lebanon
  • Zuheir al-Hiti, Days of Dust, Iraq, Dar Tanweer, Tunis
  • Ismail Fahd Ismail, Al-Sabiliat, Kuwait, Nova
  • Abdul-Kareem Jouaity, The North Africans, Morocco, Al-Markez al-Thaqafi al-Arabi
  • Taissier Khalaf, The Slaughter of the Philosophers, Syria, Arabic Scientific Institute for Research and Publishing
  • Elias Khoury, Children of the Ghetto – My Name is Adam, Lebanon, Dar al-Adab
  • Mohammed Abdel Nabi, In the Spider's Room, Egypt, Dar al-Ain
  • Saad Mohammed Rahim, The Bookseller's Murder, Iraq, Dar wa Maktabat Sutur
  • Youssef Rakha, Paolo, Egypt, Dar Tanweer, Egypt

The 2017 judges are: Sahar Khalifa (Chair), a Palestinian novelist; Saleh Almani, a Palestinian translator; Fatima al-Haji, a Libyan academic, novelist and broadcaster; Sahar ElMougy, an Egyptian novelist and academic; and Sophia Vasalou, a Greek academic and translator.

The 2017 Chair of Judges Sahar Khalifa comments on the longlist:
‘We chose the longlist of 16 from 186 novels submitted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. The longlist novels are hugely varied in their subject matter and imagined worlds, embracing history, political and social themes and fantasy. As a whole they express the interactions, struggles and defeats, as well as the hopes and dreams, of the Arab world today.’

This is the tenth year of the Prize, which is recognised as the leading prize for literary fiction in the Arab world.

Professor Yasir Suleiman CBE, Chair of the Board of Trustees, comments:
‘This tenth anniversary longlist presents new writers and established ones who have reached the longlist before. This combination is testimony to the Prize in its search for creative voices whose provenance extends from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Gulf. The longlist novels for this year speak to the pressing concerns of the Arab World, doing so in different voices and styles that give texture and nuance to their narrative material.’

The 2017 IPAF shortlist will be announced at the Palace of Culture in Algiers, Algeria on Thursday 16 February 2017. The winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2017 will be announced at an awards ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday 25 April 2017, 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.

Last year’s winner of the Prize was Destinies: Concerto of the Holocaust and the Nakba by Rabai al-Madhoun. Fulfilling its ambition to increase the international reach of Arabic fiction, the Prize provides funding for English translation for its winners. Baha Taher’s Sunset Oasis was published in English by Sceptre (an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton) in 2009 and has gone on to be translated into ten languages worldwide. Youssef Ziedan’s Azazeel was published in the UK by Atlantic Books in April 2012. English translations of Abdo Khal’s Spewing Sparks as Big as Castles and Mohammed Achaari’s The Arch and the Butterfly were published in 2014 by the Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation. Saud Alsanousi’s The Bamboo Stalk (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing) was published in 2015 and Raja Alem’s novel, The Dove’s Necklace (Duckworth) in 2016. 2014 IPAF winner Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi has also secured English publication with Oneworld in the UK and Penguin Books in the US (due for release in early 2018).

The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is an annual literary prize for prose fiction in Arabic. It is run with the support of the Booker Prize Foundation in London and funded by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) in the UAE.

For further information about the Prize, please visit www.arabicfiction.org or follow the Prize on Facebook.