Shortlist for Arabic fiction prize announced

Shortlist for Arabic fiction prize announced

Two Iraqi novelists, two Moroccans, one Syrian author and one Egyptian author have been shortlisted for the 2014 International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

It was announced that Youssef Fadel, Inaam Kachachi, Khaled Khalifa, Abdelrahim Lahbibi, Ahmed Mourad and Ahmed Saadawi had made the shortlist at a press conference at the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation in Amman, Jordan, today (10th February).
The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is awarded for prose fiction in Arabic and each of the six shortlisted finalists receives $10,000 (£6,100), with a further $50,000 (£30,500) going to the winner. The Prize was launched in 2007, and is supported by the Booker Prize Foundation in London and funded by the TCA Abu Dhabi in the UAE.

This year’s six novels include a prison novel from Morocco; a story about one family’s dispersal around the globe; a police hunt for an Iraqi Frankenstein terrorising Baghdad; a man’s search for knowledge as he travels around North Africa and the Middle East; the tale of one family’s struggle to survive in present day Aleppo and a psychological thriller set in a psychiatric hospital in Cairo.

Judging panel chair, Saudi Arabian academic and critic Saad A. Albazei, commented: “The shortlisted novels are varied in their narrative styles and language: from discovering virtual reality to the mingling of fantasy and reality, they also include classical language and multiple narrative voices and demonstrate the Arabic novel's ability to flower despite the harsh realities of daily life.”

The six shortlisted titles were chosen from a longlist of 16, announced in January 2014. The novels were selected from 156 entries from 18 countries, all published within the last 12 months.
The shortlisted novels are: A Rare Blue Bird that Flies with Me by Youssef Fadel (Dar al-Adab); Tashari by Inaam Kachachi (Dar al-Jadid); No Knives in this City's Kitchens by Khaled Khalifa (Dar al-Ain); The Journeys of 'Abdi, known as Son of Hamriya by Abdelrahim Lahbibi (Africa East); The Blue Elephant by Ahmed Mourad (Dar al-Shorouq); and Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (Al-Jamal)

The list contains two novelists who have been shortlisted in previous years: Inaam Kachachi, shortlisted for The American Granddaughter (Blooomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing) in 2009, and Khaled Khalifa, who was shortlisted for In Praise of Hatred (Black Swan) in 2008.
The previously anonymous 2014 judges are chair Saad A Albazei; Libyan journalist, novelist and playwright Ahmed Alfaitouri; Moroccan academic, critic and novelist Zhor Gourram; Iraqi academic and critic Abdullah Ibrahim, and Mehmet Hakki Suçin, a Turkish academic specialising in teaching the Arabic language and the translation of Arabic literature into Turkish.

The winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2014 will be announced at an awards ceremony in Abu Dhabi on 29 April 2014, on the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. An English translation of the winning novel is guaranteed for the winner. To date, two of the winning novels have appeared in English (Sunset Oasis, Sceptre, and Azazeel, Atlantic Books); a further two (The Arch and the Butterfly and Throwing Sparks, both Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation) are due to be published this year.