El-Barry and El-Tahawy in Arabic Booker’s shortlist

Mary Mourad , Thursday 9 Dec 2010

The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), also known as the Arabic Booker, has just announced its shortlist for the fourth competition


The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), also known as the 'Arabic Booker', has just announced its shortlist for the fourth competition   (in alphabetical order):

Mohamed Achari from Morocco for ‘The Arch and the Butterfly’, published by Al-Markaz Al-Thaqafi Al-Arabi

Raja Alem from Saudi Arabia for ‘The Dove’s Necklace’, published by Al-Markaz Al-Thaqafi Al-Arabi

Khalid El-Barry from Egypt for ‘An Oriental Dance’, published by Al-Ain

Bensalem Himmich from Morocco for ‘My Tormentor’, published by Dar El-Shorouk

Amir Taj Al-Sir from Sudan for 'The Hunter of the Chrysalises (orThe Head Hunter)', published by Thaqafa L-Al-Nashr

Miral El-Tahawy from Egypt for ‘Brooklyn Heights’, published by Dar Merit

The list was announced from Qatar, the Arab capital of culture 2010. The judge’s panel was also finally revealed and includes: author Fadhil Al-Azzawi from Iraq (chair), critics Munira al-Fadhel from Bahrain and Isabella Camera d’Afflitto from Italy, and writers Amjad Nasser from Jordan and Said Yaktine from Morocco.

The final winner for 2011 will be announced on 14th March, 2011 at eve of the Abu-Dhabi International Book Fair in UAE according to the official IPAF website.

Mohammed Achaari is a poet and novelist from Morocco. He is the head of the union of Moroccan writers and was minister of culture from 1998 to 2007. He has published a number of works of fiction and poetry, some of which has been translated into French, Spanish, Russian and Dutch. 

The Arch and the Butterfly - Tackling the themes of Islamic extremism and terrorism from a new angle, ‘The Arch and the Butterfly’ explores the effect of terrorism on family life. It tells the story of a left-wing father who one day receives a letter from Al-Qaeda informing him that his son, who he believes is studying in Paris, has died a martyr in Afghanistan. The novel looks at the impact of this shocking news on the life of its hero and consequently on his relationship with his wife.

Raja Alem is a well-known Saudi novelist living in Mecca. She has published a number of novels and plays. Two of her works, written in collaboration with American novelist and cinematographer Tom McDonough, have been published in English: Fatma: A Novel of Arabia (2002) and My Thousand and One Nights (2007). In The Doves' Necklace, she defends the old town of Mecca which is threatened with destruction in the name of modernisation.

The Doves' Necklace - The sordid underbelly of the holy city of Mecca is revealed in this astonishing story. The world, painted by heroine Aisha, embraces everything from prostitution and religious extremism to the exploitation of foreign workers under a mafia of building contractors, who are destroying the historic areas of the city. This bleak scene is in contrast with the beauty of Aisha's love letters to her German boyfriend.

Khalid Al-Bari is an Egyptian writer with a degree in medicine from Cairo university. He has lived in London for over ten years. He has published two books, one of which is a biography.

An Oriental Dance - An Oriental Dance tells the story of a young Egyptian who, on marrying an older British woman, moves to England. Through his eyes, the reader is given a vivid account of the struggles and relationships of the Arab expatriate community living in the UK.

Bensalem Himmich is a Moroccan novelist, poet and philosopher and the current minister of culture. He has published 26 books, both literary and scientific works, in Arabic and French, and has won numerous literary prizes including the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature (twice) and the Riad El Rayyes prize. His novels TheTheocrat (2005) and The Polymath (2004) have been translated into English by Roger Allen. His novel, Black Taste, Black Odour, was long listed for the International prize for Arabic fiction in 2009.

My Tormentor - In a gripping novel, whose narrative style is a blend of Kafka and ‘One Thousand and One Nights’, Himmich imagines an innocent man's experience of extraordinary rendition in an American prison. During his captivity, the protagonist is subjected to interrogation and torture by both Arabs and foreigners and yet, against all odds, the author manages to find some hope in an otherwise desperate situation.

Amir Taj Al-Sir is a Sudanese writer. He has published nine novels, two biographies and one collection of poetry.

The Hunter of the Chrysalises (or The Head Hunter) - The Hunter of the Chrysalises is the story of a former secret service agent who, having been forced to retire due to an accident, decide to write a novel about his experiences. He starts to visit a cafe frequented by intellectuals, only to find himself the subject of police scrutiny.

Miral Al-Tahawy is an Egyptian writer currently living in New York. Her first novel, The Tent, was widely acclaimed when it was first published in Arabic and was published in English by the AUC press in 2000. Her other works have also been translated into different languages, including English, French and Spanish.

Brooklyn Heights - Brooklyn Heights tells the story of the Arab immigrants in New York and those who live among them through the eyes of the female narrator. By contrasting her experiences in her chosen home, America, and her homeland Egypt, she reveals the problematic relationship between east and west. It is a story of fundamentalism and tolerance, loss and hope in love. Simple, yet full of rich detail, the novel evokes the atmosphere of America over the last decade.


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