Shortlist for International Prize for Arabic Fiction

The shortlist for the 2012 International Prize for Arabic Fiction has been announced in a ceremony held in Tunisia.

The six titles, selected from a longlist of 16 books, come from writers of various nationalities. Ave Maria by Iraqi writer Sinan Antoon (Al-Jamal) tells the story of two Iraqi Christians, a young man and a young woman whose lives overlap on a single day. I, She and Other Women by Lebanese writer Jana Elhassan (Arab Scientific Publishers) explores the interior life of a young woman desperate to avoid following her mother’s path in life.

Saudi Arabian Mohammed Hassan Alwan’s novel The Beaver (Dar al-Saqi) follows a man who travels from Riyadh to Portland in the US, examining his family history, while Our Master by Egyptian journalist Ibrahim Issa (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation) is a satirical tale on the power of television and celebrity.

The Bamboo Stick by Kuwaiti Saud Alsanousi (Arab Scientific Publishers) is about the son of an illicit relationship between a Kuwaiti man and his Philippino servant, while His Excellency the Minister by Tunisian Hussein Al-Wad (Dar al-Janub) is a humorous novel which sees a teacher accidentally thrust into politics and all its vices.

All of the books were published within the past 12 months.

Egyptian academic and writer Galal Amin, chair of the judges, 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.”

The six nominated writers will each receive $10,000, with the winner, who will be announced at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi on 23rd April, collecting $50,000. The winning novel will also be translated into English.

The prize was launched in 2007, and is supported by the Booker Prize Foundation and funded by the TCA Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. All five previous winners have gone on to secure English publishing deals for their novels.