The much awaited longlist for the 2012 International Prize for Arabic Fiction was announced Thursday, 10 November. Popularly known as the "Arabic Booker", the prize, currently in its fifth year, has come to be regarded as the premier prize for literary fiction in the Arab world.
This year’s list contains 13 titles, culled from a selection of 101 entries from 15 countries, all published within the last year.
The longlisted come from seven countries, with four authors apiece from Lebanon and Egypt, while Syria, Algeria, Iraq, Tunisia and Jordan are each represented by one author.
This year, a number of the longlisted novels deal with the theme of the Lebanese war, whilst other common themes include displacement, both for expatriate Arabs and those who have lost loved ones in childhood, and the challenge of rediscovering one’s roots and identity.
Youssef Ziedan, who won the prize in 2009 with Azazel, makes it onto this year’s longlist with The Nabatean. He is joined by three other previously shortlisted authors: Jabbour Douaihy (June Rain, 2008); Habib Selmi (The Scents of Marie-Claire, 2009) and Rabee Jaber (America, 2010). Ezzedine Choukri Fishere was longlisted for the prize in 2009 for Intensive Care.
These books were selected by a panel of five specialists in the field of Arabic literature. The judges’ names will be announced in Cairo on Wednesday 7 December 2011, at the same time as the 2012 shortlist.
The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is awarded for prose fiction in Arabic and each of the six shortlisted finalists receives $10,000, with a further $50,000 going to the winner. It was launched in Abu Dhabi, UAE, in April 2007, and is supported by the Booker Prize Foundation and the Emirates Foundation for Philanthropy.
The winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2012 will be announced at an awards ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday 27 March 2012, on the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.
The 2012 longlist is as follows:
Title: Paving the Sea
Author: Rashid al-Daif (Lebanon)
Publisher: Riyad al-Rayyes
Title: The Vagrant
Author: Jabbour Douaihy (Lebanon)
Publisher: Dar al-Nhar
Title: The Druze of Belgrade
Author: Rabee Jaber (Lebanon)
Publisher: Al-Markez al-Thaqafi al-Arabi
Title: Suitcases of Memory
Author: Sharbel Qatan (Lebanon)
Title: Embrace on Brooklyn Bridge
Author: Ezzedine Choukri Fishere (Egypt)
Publisher: Dar al-Ain
Title: The Unemployed
Author: Nasr Iraq (Egypt)
Publisher: Al-Dar al-Masriya al-Lubnaniya
Title: Nocturnal Creatures of Sadness
Author: Mohamed al-Refai (Egypt)
Publisher: Dar Merit
Title: The Nabatean
Author: Youssef Ziedan (Egypt)
Publisher: Dar al-Shorouq
Title: Toy of Fire
Author: Bashir Mufti (Algeria)
Title: Under the Copenhagen Sky
Author: Hawra al-Nadawi (Iraq/Denmark)
Publisher: Dar al-Saqi
Title: The Women of al-Basatin
Author: Habib Selmi (Tunisia)
Publisher: Dar al-Adab
Title: The Amazing Journey of Khair al-Din ibn Zard
Author: Ibrahim al-Zaarur (Jordan)
Publisher: Dar Fada’at
Author: Fadi Azzam (Syria)