The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) has revealed the longlist of 16 novels for 2015 prize. They were selected from among 180 entries from 15 countries, all published within the last 12 months.
Three Egyptian writers are on the list: Ashraf El-Khamaisi, Hisham El-Khashin and Muna El-Sheemi.
The longlisted authors come from nine countries, with the highest numbers from Lebanon and Egypt, with three authors apiece.
A number of this year’s longlisted authors have appeared on previous IPAF longlists and shortlists. Two writers have been previously shortlisted: Jabbour Douaihy for The Vagrant (2012) and June Rain (2008) and Jana Elhassan for Me, She and the Other Women (2013). Amongst the authors previously longlisted are: Antoine Douaihy, The Bearer of the Purple Rose (2014); Maha Hassan, Umbilical Cord (2011), and Ashraf El-Khamaisi, God’s Land of Exile (2014). One of the longlisted authors, Mohammed Berrada, is a former judge of the prize, having been on the panel in its inaugural year, 2008.
Five women appear on the longlist, the highest number so far. Eleven women have been longlisted for the Prize since 2009, the first year a longlist was released.
The full 2015 longlist, with author names in alphabetical order, is as follows:
The books were selected by a panel of five judges, whose names will be announced in Casablanca, Morocco, on Friday 13 February 2015, at the same time as the 2015 shortlist and coinciding with the Casablanca International Book Fair.
The 2015 Chair of Judges comments on the longlist: “This year, the number of novels submitted for the prize was the highest in its history. With 180 books to consider, it was certainly a challenge to decide on just 16 books, but this varied list showcases writers from a range of artistic schools and generations. Some titles are first novels, others are by more established writers. However, our focus in choosing this longlist was the books themselves rather than their authors.”
Professor Yasir Suleiman, Chair of the Board of Trustees, commented: “The IPAF longlist once again offers us a selection of stylistically and thematically varied novels from male and female writers spanning across the Arab world. Their combined and contrasting perspectives make for a rich and fertile range of reading material. The Prize celebrates them all for their role in enriching Arabic literature.”
Delivering on its aim to increase the international reach of Arabic fiction, the Prize has guaranteed English translations for all of its winners: Bahaa Taher (2008), Youssef Ziedan (2009), Abdo Khal (2010), joint winners Mohammed Achaari and Raja Alem (2011), Rabee Jaber (2012), Saud Alsanousi (2013) and Ahmed Saadawi (2014).
Taher’s Sunset Oasis was translated into English by Sceptre (an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton) in 2009 and has gone on to be translated into at least eight languages worldwide. Ziedan’s Azazeel was published in the UK by Atlantic Books in April 2012, while 2013 saw the publication of Spanish translations of Baha Taher's Sunset Oasis (El Oasis) and Rabee Jaber's The Druze of Belgrade (Los Drusos de Belgrado) by Madrid-based publisher Turner. More recently, English translations of Abdo Khal and Mohammed Achaari’s winning novels both appeared on bookshop shelves in 2014, published by the Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation.
Both Raja Alem’s novel, The Dove’s Necklace (Duckworth, March), and Saud Alsanousi’s The Bamboo Stalk (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, June) will be published in the UK this year. It has also just been announced that the 2014 winner, Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, has secured English publication with Oneworld in the UK and Penguin Books in the US. It is set to be published in autumn 2016, translated into English by Jonathan Wright.
The winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2015 will be announced at an awards ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday 6 May, 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.