Longlist for Arabic Booker announced, includes Mansoura Ezz Eldin and Abbas Baydoun

Mohammed Saad , Wednesday 3 Mar 2021

The longlist included one Egyptian author this year, Mansoura Ezz Eldin, who was nominated for her novel The Orchards of Basra

2021 Longlist

The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), known as the Arabic Booker, has revealed the longlist of 16 novels competing for the 2021 prize, which will award $50,000 to the ultimate winner.

The 16 novels selected by the judges were chosen from 121 entries, all published in Arabic between 1 July 2019 and 31 August 2020.

The longlist included only one Egyptian author, Mansour Ezz Eldin, for her novel The Orchards of Basra published by Dar El-Shorouk.

It also included Lebanese author Abbas Baydoun for his novel Boxes of Desire published by Dar Al-Ain.

The full list is as follows:



Country of origin


Abdulatif Ould Abdullah

The Eye of Hammurabi


Dar Mim

Abdullah Albsais

M for Murderer: S for Sa’id



Abdulla Al-Ayaf

Hole to Heaven

Saudi Arabia

Dar Al-Rashm

Jalal Bargas

Notebooks of the Bookshop Keeper


The Arabic Institute for Research and Publishing

Abbas Baydoun

Boxes of Desire


Dar al-Ain

Mansoura Ez Eldin

The Orchards of Basra


Dar El-Shorouk

Youssef Fadel

The Life of Butterflies



Amira Ghenim

Calamity of the Nobility


Dar Mesaa

Amara Lakhous

The Night Bird


Manshurat Al-Hibr

Dunya Mikhail

The Bird Tattoo


Dar Al-Rafidain

Sara Al-Nams



Dar Al-Adab

Hamed Al-Nazir

Two Green Eyes


Dar Tanweer - Lebanon

Muhsin Al-Ramli

Daughter of the Tigris


Dar Al-Mada

Abdelmeguid Sabata

File 42


Al-Markez Al-Thaqafi Al-Arabi

Habib Selmi

Longing for the Woman Next Door


Dar Al-Adab

Ahmed Zein

Fruit for the Crows





The longlisted authors for IPAF’s 14th edition range in age from 31 to 75 and represent 11 countries.

The IPAF said in a statement on Monday that “collectively, the writers address important issues facing the Arab world today, from suffering in Iraq to the spread of extremist organisations and the position of women in the Arab world. Crime novels also have a strong presence on the list this year, with narratives exploring crimes committed against the backdrop and aftermath of wars and conflicts. Further themes explored are human relationships, loyalty, betrayal and the power of literature across the Arabic world in cities from Aden and Amman to Casablanca, Oran and beyond.” 

The longlist was chosen by a panel of five judges chaired by Lebanese poet and author Chawki Bazih. Judging alongside Bazih are Mohammed Ait Hanna, a Moroccan writer, translator and Professor of Philosophy at the Regional Centre for Teaching Careers and Training in Casablanca; Safa Jubran, a lecturer of Arabic Language and Modern Literature at the University of San Paolo in Brazil; Ali Al-Muqri, a Yemeni writer twice longlisted for IPAF in 2009 and 2011 respectively; and Ayesha Sultan, an Emirati author, journalist, founding director of Warrak Publishing House and Vice President of the Emirates Writers Union.

Those on the 2021 longlist who have been recognised by the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in previous years include Jalal Bargas (longlisted in 2019 for Women of the Five Senses), Mansoura Ez Eldin (shortlisted in 2010 for Beyond Paradise), Youssef Fadel (shortlisted in 2014 for A Rare Blue Bird that Flies with Me), Hamed al-Nazir (longlisted in 2016 for The Prophecy of Saqqa and again in 2018 for The Black Peacock), Muhsin Al-Ramli (longlisted in 2010 for Dates on my Fingers and again in 2013 for The President’s Garden) and Habib Selmi (shortlisted in 2009 for The Scents of Marie-Claire and again in 2012 for The Women of al-Basatin).

Authors who have been longlisted for the prize for the first time are Abdulatif Ould Abdullah, Abdullah Albsais, Abdulla Al Ayaf, Abbas Baydoun, Amira Ghenim, Amara Lakhous, Dunya Mikhail, Sara al-Nams, Abdelmeguid Sabata and Ahmed Zein.

Chair of the 2021 Judges Chawki Bazih, said: “This abundant harvest of writing is the natural fruit of an unholy alliance between the COVID-19 epidemic – which closed all the doors to writers except language – and the epidemic of Arab regimes, fortified by every kind of corruption and oppression. This explosion of creativity is reflected in this year’s submissions and longlist, whose authors have written the true history of forgotten and marginalized people and places, and given voice to the weak and dispossessed.

“These 16 outstanding books from across the Arab world encompass a variety of styles and themes, from documentary-like narrative, to letters and ingenious use of the crime thriller genre, all penetrating the social and psychological fabric of Arab society. They have boldly exposed the many tragic faces of Arab reality and held regimes responsible for human rights abuse, the stealing of freedoms, persecution of women and their encouragement of violence, fundamentalism and wars.”

The six shortlisted titles will be announced on 29 March 2021 and the winner of the 14th IPAF will be announced on 25th May 2021.

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