Egyptians Adel Esmat and Iman Yehia make it to Arabic Booker longlist

Mohammed Saad , Monday 7 Jan 2019

The novels selected by the judges were chosen from 134 entries, all published in Arabic between July 2017 and June 2018


The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), known as the Arabic Booker, announced on Monday the longlist of 16 novels in contention for the 2019 prize.

The longlist includes two Egyptian writers, Adel Esmat for his novel Al-Wassaya (The Commandments), and Iman Yehia, for his novel Al-Zawga El-Mexikya (The Mexican Wife).

The novels selected by the judges were chosen from 134 entries, all published in Arabic between July 2017 and June 2018.

The full 2019 longlist, listed in alphabetical order by author's surname, is as follows:




Country of origin


Mohammed Abi Samra

Women Without Trace


Riyad al-Rayyes

Omaima Abdullah Al-Khamis

Voyage of the Cranes in the Cities of Agate

Saudi Arabia

Dar Al Saqi

Hoda Barakat

The Night Mail


Dar al-Adab

Jalal Bargas

Women of the Five Senses


Arabic Institute for Research and Publishing

Adel Esmat

The Commandments


Kotob Khan

Maysalun Hadi

Mohammed's Brothers


Dar al-Dhakira

Huji Jaber

Black Foam


Dar Tanweer, Lebanon

Inaam Kachachi 

The Outcast


Dar al-Jadid

Waciny Laredj

May — The Nights of Isis Copia


Dar al-Adab

Mohammed Al-Maazuz

What Sin Caused her to Die?


Cultural Book Centre

May Menassa

I Killed My Mother to Live


Riyad al-Rayyes

Mbarek Rabi

Western Mediterranean


Arabic Institute for Research and Publishing

Habib Sayah

Me and Haim


Dar Mim

Shahla Ujayli

Summer with the Enemy


Difaf Publishing

Iman Yehia

The Mexican Wife


Dar al-Shorouk

Kafa Al-Zou’bi

Cold White Sun


Dar al-Adab


The longlist includes seven female authors — the highest number in the prize’s history — and nine male authors, ranging in age from 43 to 79 and representing nine countries. Collectively, the writers address important issues facing the Arab world today and reflect on the region’s rich history and traditions.

The longlist was chosen by a panel of five judges chaired by Charafdin Majdolin, a Moroccan critic and academic, who specialises in aesthetics, verbal and visual narratives and comparative studies. Judging alongside Majdolin are Fowziyah AbuKhalid, a Saudi Arabian poet, writer, academic and researcher in social and political issues; Zulaikha Aburisha, a Jordanian poet, columnist, researcher and human and women’s rights activist;  Zhang HongYi, a Chinese academic, translator and researcher; and Latif Zeitouni, a Lebanese academic and literary critic, who specialises in narratology.

Of the 16 authors chosen, many are recognisable names. Six have been acknowledged in the past for the prize, including Omaima Abdullah Al-Khamis, longlisted for The Leafy Tree in 2010; Hoda Barakat, longlisted for The Kingdom of the Earth in 2013; Inaam Kachachi, shortlisted for The American Granddaughter in 2009 and again in 2014 for Tashari; Waciny Laredj, longlisted on three occasions for The Andalusian House in 2011, Lolita's Fingers in 2013 and Ashes of the East: the Wolf who Grew Up in the Wilderness in 2014; May Menassa,  shortlisted for Walking in the Dust in 2008 and a mentor for IPAF’s 2013 Nadwa; and Shahla Ujayli, who was shortlisted for A Sky Close to Our House in 2016 and attended the 2014 Nadwa as a mentee.

The 10 authors making their first appearance on the longlist are Mohammed Abi Samra, Jalal Bargas, Adel Esmat, Maysalun Hadi, Huji Jaber, Mohammed Al-Maazuz, Mbarek Rabi, Habib Sayah, Iman Yehia and Kafa Al-Zou’bi.

Majdolin commented: “The novels selected for the longlist this year arise from different experiences and stylistic choices, ranging from the historical to a contemplative kind of realism; from the autobiographical to the documentary; and from extended to economic narrative prose. This may be because the authors come from different generations, or from different parts of the Arab world. The novels in the last analysis reflect intersecting human pain and disappointment as well as common aspirations.

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