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Longlist, judges and dates announced for 2020 International Prize for Arabic Fiction

Tuesday, December 17, 2019/ Editor -  

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• The  longlist comprises books from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Tunisia
• Seven of the 16 longlisted books are from North Africa   
• One former winner, three former shortlistees, and two former longlistees of the prize make the 2020 longlist
 
 
 
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 17, 2019:   The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) has today, Tuesday 17 December 2019, revealed the longlist of 16 novels in contention for the 2020 prize and $50,000 award money. The novels selected by the judges were chosen from 128 entries, all published in Arabic between July 2018 and June 2019. 
 
The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is an annual literary prize for prose fiction in Arabic. It is sponsored by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi and is run with the support, as its mentor, of the Booker Prize Foundation in London.
 
The longlist for IPAF’s 13th edition includes 13 male and three female authors, ranging in age from 34 to 75 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 covers an expanse of Arab history, from ancient Libya and medieval central Asia, to 19th century Egypt, the mid-20th century in Syria and recent history in Iraq and Algeria. The works depict the destinies of entire cities such as Aleppo, Algiers and Rabat, and of individuals trying to live their lives in the midst of war and chaos.
 
The longlist was chosen by a panel of five judges chaired by Muhsin al-Musawi, an Iraqi literary critic and Professor of Classical and Modern Arabic Literature, Comparative and Cultural Studies at Columbia University. Judging alongside al-Musawi were Pierre Abi Saab, a Lebanese critic, journalist and co-founder of the Lebanese Al-Akhbar newspaper; Reem Magued, an Eqyptian broadcaster, television journalist and trainer in journalism and media; Amin Zaoui, an Algerian novelist who writes in both Arabic and French, and Professor of Comparative Literature and Contemporary Thought at the Central University of Algiers; and Viktoria Zarytovskaya, a Russian academic, researcher and translator of numerous works of Arabic literature into Russian including Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad, winner of the prize in 2014. 
 
Those on the 2020 longlist who have been recognised by the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in previous years include Rasha Adly (longlisted in 2017 with Passion), Magbool Al-Alawi (longlisted  in 2011 with his debut novel Turmoil in Jeddah); Jabbour Douaihy (shortlisted for the inaugural IPAF in 2008 with June Rain and in 2012 with The Vagrant, and longlisted in 2015 with The American Quarter); Samir Kacimi (longlisted for A Great Day to Die in 2010); Khaled Khalifa (twice-shortlisted, in 2008 with In Praise of Hatred and in 2014 with No Knives in the Kitchens of This City); Bachir Mefti (shortlisted for Toy of Fire in 2012) and Youssef Ziedan (winner of the prize in 2009 with Azazeel). 
 
Authors who have been longlisted for the prize for the first time are Abdelouahab Aissaoui, Khalil Alrez, Hassan Aourid, Salim Barakat, Mohammed Eissa al-Mu’adab, Aisha Ibrahim, Azhar Jerjis, Said Khatibi and Alia Mamdouh. 
 
The full 2020 longlist, listed in alphabetical order by author surname, is as follows:
 
 

Author

Title

Country of origin

Publisher

Rasha Adly

The Last Days of the Pasha

Egypt

Arab Scientific Publishers

Abdelouahab Aissaoui

The Spartan Court

Algeria

Dar Min

Magbool Al-Alawi

Seferberlik

Saudi Arabia

Dar Al Saqi

Khalil Alrez

The Russian Quarter

Syria

Difaf Publishing

Hassan Aourid

Al-Mutanabbi’s Rabat

Morocco

Al-Markez al-Thaqafi al-Arabi

Salim Barakat

What About Rachel, the Jewish Lady?

Syria

Arabic Institute for Research and Publishing

Jabbour Douaihy

The King of India

Lebanon

Dar Al Saqi

Mohammed Eissa al-Mu’adab

The Golden Hamam

Tunisia

Mesaa

Aisha Ibrahim

The War of the Gazelle

Libya

Tripoli Scientific Bookshop

Azhar Jerjis

Sleeping in the Cherry Field

Iraq

Dar al-Rafidain

Samir Kacimi

The Stairs of Trolar

Algeria

Editions Barzakh

Khaled Khalifa

No-one Prayed Over Their Graves

Syria

Hachette Antoine/Naufal

Said Khatibi

Firewood of Sarajevo

Algeria

Al-Ikhtilef

Alia Mamdouh

The Tank

Iraq

Al-Mutawassit

Bachir Mefti

The Mingling of the Seasons

Algeria

Al-Ikhtilef

Youssef Ziedan

Fardeqan – the Detention of the Great Sheikh

Egypt

Dar al-Shorouk

 

Muhsin al-Musawi, 2020 Chair of the judges said:
“This longlist is varied in subject matter, covering war and peace, history, issues of marginalised and minority groups and the relationship with the Other. It is also concerned with the crisis of the individual and of humanity as a whole, while strongly inclined to experimentation with the narrative form. The submitted novels were highly competitive in their subject matter and style, so in choosing this longlist the judging panel concentrated on the craftsmanship of the novel, the variety of its approaches and the richness of its stylistic, intellectual and thematic substance.”
 
Professor Yasir Suleiman CBE, Chair of the Board of Trustees, said: 
“This year’s longlist delves into the most abiding Arab concerns in our times. Through these works we learn of how the past animates the present, but we do so in a way that reveals the universality of this historical sweep. The longlist offers penetrating insights into the suffering and destruction visited upon the Arab city by the machinery of war and the exigencies of poverty, social degradation and political tyranny. The longlist is dominated by North African writers, while including a good mix of established and emerging writers; this mix is an omen of continuity in the ascendant march of the novel in modern Arabic literature.”
 
Key Dates:
 
• The six shortlisted titles will be chosen by the judges from the longlist and announced at a press conference in Morocco on 4 February 2020.  
• The winner of the 13th IPAF will be announced at an awards ceremony in Abu Dhabi on 14 April 2020, on the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.
In fulfilling its ambition to increase the international reach of Arabic fiction, the prize provides funding for English translation for its winners. Winning novels published in English include Mohammed Achaari’s The Arch and the Butterfly; Raja Alem’s The Dove’s Necklace (Duckworth, UK, and Overlook Press, US); Saud Alsanousi’s The Bamboo Stalk; Abdo Khal’s Spewing Sparks as Big as Castles; Rabai al-Madhoun’s Fractured Destinies: Concerto of the Holocaust and Al Nakba (Hoopoe Fiction); Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad (Oneworld, UK, and Penguin Books, US); Bahaa Taher’s Sunset Oasis (Sceptre); and Youssef Ziedan’s Azazeel (Atlantic Books). 
 
This year also saw the publication in English of several novels recognised by the prize, including Ismail Fahd Ismail’s The Old Woman and the River (shortlisted as Al-Sabiliat in 2017), translated by Sophia Vasalou and published by Interlink in October and Sinan Antoon’s The Book of Collateral Damage (longlisted in 2017 as al-Fihrist), translated by Jonathan Wright and published by Yale University Press in May. In 2019 Hoopoe Fiction published George Yaraq’s Guard of the Dead (shortlisted in 2016), translated by Raphael Cohen and published in April and Ibrahim Abdelmeguid’s Clouds over Alexandria (longlisted in 2014), translated by Kay Heikkinen and published in May. 
 
Looking ahead to 2020, The Night Mail by Hoda Barakat (2019 winner) will be translated by Marilyn Booth and published by Oneworld in September; and Interlink has acquired the rights to publish Shahla Ujayli's 2019 shortlisted novel Summer with the Enemy for which the translation is underway and is due for publication in 2020. 

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