Thursday, February 22, 2018

International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2018 | #ArabicFiction2018

·         Two debut novelists make the shortlist for the $50,000 prize for the first time

·         Shahad Al Rawi’s Baghdad Clock has already been translated into English and will be published in June

Amir Tag Elsir, Aziz Mohammed, Ibrahim Nasrallah, Shahad Al Rawi, Walid Shurafa and Dima Wannous have today (Wednesday 21 February), been announced as the six authors shortlisted for the 11th International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF). The books were revealed by the 2018 chair of judges, Ibrahim Al Saafin, during a press conference held at the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation in Amman, Jordan.

 Two debut novelists, who are the youngest authors from the longlist, – Saudi Arabian Aziz Mohammed and Iraqi Shahad Al Rawi – make this year’s shortlist. Al Rawi’s Baghdad Clock has already been translated into English and will be published in June by Oneworld Publications.

They are competing with two previously shortlisted authors: Sudanese Amir Tag Elsir (2011, The Grub Hunter) and Palestinian/Jordanian Ibrahim Nasrallah (2009, Time of White Horses), who have also both served as mentors on the Prize’s Nadwa – an annual writing workshop for talented, emerging writers. Completing the list are Palestinian Walid Shurafa and Syrian Dima Wannous, who are recognised by the Prize for the first time. Wannous’ The Frightened Ones is currently being translated into English, due for publication in 2019.

 The 2018 shortlist, with author names in alphabetical order, is as follows:

Country of origin
Amir Tag Elsir
Flowers in Flames
Dar Al Saqi
Aziz Mohammed
The Critical Case of "K"
Saudi Arabia
Dar Tanweer, Lebanon
Ibrahim Nasrallah
The Second War of the Dog
Arab Scientific Publishers
Shahad Al Rawi
Baghdad Clock 
Dar al-Hikma, London
Walid Shurafa
Heir of the Tombstones
Al Ahlia
Dima Wannous
The Frightened Ones
Dar al-Adab


The 2018 chair of judges, Ibrahim Al Saafin, said:

‘The six novels on the shortlist delighted the judges with their fresh exploration of social, political and existentialist themes. Narrative techniques were varied, from the form of diary entries and a novel within a novel, to several authors taking inspiration from the fantasy genre. They allude to the challenging new realities of the Arab world, from Syria to Sudan, but transcend the factual and prosaic.’

This year’s six novels, selected from the longlist of 16, and published between July 2016 and June 2017, display the best of contemporary Arabic literature. Flowers in Flames tells the story of women in Sudan who have become objects of pleasure under the rule of an extremist group, and in Baghdad Clock, a young Iraqi girl and her best friend watch their lives change beyond recognition in war-torn Baghdad. Meanwhile, Heir of the Tombstones focuses on an Israeli artists’ village to explore the plight of the Palestinian people. The Critical Case of "K" takes the form of a diary of a frustrated writer inspired by Kafka, who finds out he has cancer, while The Frightened Ones features a novel about a woman dominated by fear, reflecting the mind-set of its narrator. Finally, The Second War of the Dog is set in a future world to chart the transformation and corruption of a society driven by greed.


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