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Ibrahim Isaa makes Arabic Booker shortlist; Galal Amin to head judging panel

Six novels dealing with varied thematic concerns reach the shortlist for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction to be announced April 2013

Sayed Mahmoud in Tunisia, Wednesday 9 Jan 2013
A collage of the covers of the Six novels included on the Shortlist.

The shortlist of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) was announced tonight, 9 January, at a press conference in the Tunisian capital Tunis. The shortlist includes Ibrahim Issa as the only Egyptian. The IPAF board of trustees also revealed the names of the judging panel, to be chaired by Egyptian writer and academic Galal Amin.

The shortlist includes Iraqi Sinan Antoon, Lebanese Jana Elhassan, Saudi Mohammed Hassan Alwan, Egyptian Ibrahim Issa, Kuwaiti Saud Alsanousi and Tunisian Hussein Al-Wad.

The longlist, which was announced 6 December, included three Egyptians: writer and journalist Ibrahim Issa for his novel Mowlana (Our Master); writer and former judge Ashraf El-Ashmawi for his novel Toya; and young writer Mohammed Abdel Nabi for his novel Rogo’a El-Sheikh Ela Sebah (The Return of the Sheikh).

The judges are Egyptian academic and writer Galal Amin (chair), Lebanese academic and critic Sobhi Al-Boustani; head of the Arab Cartoonists' Association, and owner and chief editor of the independent Syrian daily newspaper Al-Domari Ali Ferzat; professor of Arabic Literature at the Jagiellonian University of Cracow Barbara Michalak-Pikulska, and professor of Arabic literature at Manchester University Zahia Smail Salhi.

Lebanese writers Elias Khoury, Rabee Jaber, and Algerian Waciny Laredj, are the most prominent writers who were included on the longlist and didn't make it to the shortlist.

The six shortlisted were selected from 133 entries from 15 countries published in the last 12 months. The shortlisted novels, in alphabetical order, are:






Ave Maria

Sinan Antoon



I, She and Other Women

Jana Elhassan


Arab Scientific Publishers

The Beaver

Mohammed Hassan Alwan

Saudi Arabian

Dar Al-Saqi

Our Master

Ibrahim Issa


Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation

The Bamboo Stick

Saud Alsanousi


Arab Scientific Publishers

His Excellency the Minister

Hussein Al-Wad


Dar Al-Janub


Chair of the judges panel Galal Amin said: "The members of the committee feel extremely pleased that they were able to select an excellent shortlist of newly written Arabic novels, which bring to the fore several evolving talents around the Arab world. The committee is gratified to note that outstanding creativity is common across Arab countries and generations of writers."

Jonathan Taylor, chair of the Board of Trustees, commented: "We're delighted to welcome and honour six new writers for the prize. Their works have been selected by our judges for their outstanding quality and it is a great pleasure to be able to bring them to the attention now of a wider Arabic audience and, in due course, to international readership."

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.

The IPAF was launched in Abu Dhabi, UAE, in April 2007, and is supported by the Booker Prize Foundation in London and funded by the TCA Abu Dhabi in the UAE, who were announced as the new sponsor of the prize in September 2012.

The winner of IPAF 2013 will be announced at an awards ceremony in Abu Dhabi on 23 April 2013, on the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. An English translation of the winning novel is guaranteed for the winner. All five previous winners of the prize have secured English publishing deals for their novels.

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