Shortlist of the 2016 International Prize for Arabic Fiction

Shortlist Announced for

International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2016
 Logo of International Prize for Arabic Fiction | #ArabicFiction2016

Tareq Bakari, Rabai al-Madhoun, Mohamed Rabie, Mahmoud Shukair, Shahla Ujayli and George Yaraq have today, Tuesday 9 February, been announced as the six authors shortlisted for the 2016 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF). Their names were revealed by a judging panel chaired by Emirati poet and academic Amina Thiban at a press conference hosted by The Cultural Club in Muscat, Oman.

IPAF shortlisted novels 2016

The full 2016 shortlist, with author names in alphabetical order, is as follows:



Country of origin



Tareq Bakari


Dar al-Adab

Destinies: Concerto of
the Holocaust and the Nakba

Rabai al-Madhoun


Maktabat Kul Shee


Mohamed Rabie


Dar Tanweer, Lebanon

Praise for the Women
of the Family

Mahmoud Shukair


Hachette Antoine

A Sky Close to Our House

Shahla Ujayli


Difaf Publications

The Guard of the Dead

George Yaraq


Difaf Publications

 cover of Numeda  Mercury front cover  front cover of Destinies

Praise for the Women of the Family  A Sky So Close front cover  The Guard of the Dead front cover

This year’s six novels are wide-ranging in subject matter, setting and style, comprising: 

Numedia – the story of a Moroccan intellectual searching for identity through a series of relationships;Destinies: Concerto of the Holocaust and the Nakba – a pioneering novel, written in four parts, each representing a concerto movement, on the subject of Palestinian life both in occupation and exile;Mercury – a dystopian imagining of “the counter revolution" in Egypt, set in a nightmarish future where the police battle against a mysterious occupying power;Praise for the Women of the Family – the story of the Al-Abd al-Lat tribe, former Bedouins whose women play a vital role in integrating the family into urban Palestinian society during the 1950s;A Sky Close to Our House – memories of Syria’s past and times of tolerance and simple pleasures from the viewpoint of a Syrian woman now living in exile in Amman after her town, Raqqa, is occupied by ISIS; andThe Guard of the Dead – a new perspective on the Lebanese Civil War through the eyes of a hospital undertaker, whose former life as a mercenary puts him in danger.

One previously shortlisted author, Rabai al-Madhoun, makes the list. His novel The Lady of Tel Aviv was shortlisted in 2010 and has been translated into English by Telegram Books. One debut novel, Numedia, also makes the list.

Two of the shortlisted authors have participated in the IPAF nadwa, Mohamed Rabie in 2012 and Shahla Ujayli in 2014. Ujayli worked on what is now the fifth chapter of her shortlisted book, A Sky Close to Our House, during the workshop and credits the experience with helping her move forward with the novel.

The 2016 judges are: Amina Thiban (Chair), an Emirati poet and academic specialising in literature; Sayyed Mahmoud, an Egyptian journalist and poet, who is currently editor of Al-Qahira newspaper; Mohammed Mechbal, a Moroccan academic and critic; Munir Mujić, a Bosnian academic, translator and researcher and Abdo Wazen, a Lebanese poet, critic and editor-in-chief of the cultural pages of Al-Hayat newspaper. For more information, click here.

The novels selected were chosen from 159 entries from 18 countries, all published within the last 12 months.

Amina Thiban, Chair, comments on the shortlist: “The process of choosing the shortlist was a pleasure and a challenge in equal measure. This year’s list features a number of experimental works, which try out new ground as they explore the experiences of the individual and the larger concerns of the Arab world, from personal issues to social, political and historical ones. The shortlisted novels are characterised by their innovative narrative forms and styles, which both question the heritage of the Arabic novel and address the tragedy of the present day Middle East.”

This is the ninth year of the Prize, which is recognised as the leading prize for literary fiction in the Arab world.

Professor Yasir Suleiman CBE, Chair of the Board of Trustees, added: “This is a strong list, one that reflects the energy of the Arab literary scene as it marches forward to reach an ever-expanding readership. Through their subjects, well-crafted characters and technical ingenuity, these novels transcend their local sources to reach distant shores where the human spirit is the ultimate champion.”

IPAF will participate in further events in Oman in late February, when 2013 winner Saud Alsanousi will be at the Muscat International Book Fair and an event with students at Sultan Qaboos University.

The winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2016 will be announced at an awards ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday 26 April 2016, the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. The six shortlisted finalists will receive $10,000, with a further $50,000 going to the winner.

• Delivering on its aim to increase the international reach of Arabic fiction, the Prize has guaranteed English translations for all of its winners. Raja Alem’s novel, The Dove’s Necklace (Duckworth), will be published on 2 June this year and Saud Alsanousi’s The Bamboo Stalk (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing) was published in 2015. Other winners translated into English include Bahaa Taher’s Sunset Oasis (Sceptre), Youssef Ziedan’s Azazeel (Atlantic Books) and Abdo Khal’s Throwing Sparks and Mohammed Achaari’s The Arch and the Butterfly (both Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation). 2014 IPAF winner Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi has also secured English publication with Oneworld in the UK and Penguin Books in the US.

• The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is an annual literary prize for prose fiction in Arabic. It is run with the support of the Booker Prize Foundation in London and funded by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) in the UAE.

• For further information about each author and shortlisted novel, click on the author's name: Tareq Bakari, Rabai al-Madhoun, Mohamed Rabie, Mahmoud Shukair, Shahla Ujayli and George Yaraq.

• For further information about the Prize, please visit  or follow the Prize on Facebook.


Published Date - 09/02/2016