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On Thursday 11 November 2010 the Judges of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2011 announced the longlist contenders for the Prize, one of the most prestigious and important literary events of its kind in the Arab world.
The judging panel whittled down the longlist of 16 from a total of 123 entries, from 17 countries across the Arab world. Religious extremism, political and social conflict and women’s struggles emerged as key themes and 29% of the works submitted were by female writers, compared with 16% the previous year.
The Chair of Judges commented on the
longlist: “This year’s novels were thematically varied, covering the issues of
religious extremism, political and social conflict, and women’s struggle to
liberate themselves from the obstacles standing in the way of their personal
growth and empowerment. We are delighted with the very high percentage of women
who reached the longlist compared with previous years.”
2011 marks the fourth year of the Prize, the first of its kind in the Arab world in its commitment to the independence, transparency and integrity of its selection process. Its aim is to celebrate the very best of contemporary Arabic fiction and encourage wider international readership of Arabic literature through translation.
The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is awarded for prose fiction in Arabic and each of the six shortlisted finalists receives $10,000, with a further $50,000 going to the winner. It was launched in
The Shortlist will be announced
The Winner will be
announced at the Award Ceremony on
THE 2011 LONGLIST
Mohammed Achaari is a poet and novelist from
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
Raja Alem is a well-known Saudi novelist living in
The Doves’ Necklace
The sordid underbelly of the holy
MAQBUL MOUSSA AL-ALAWI
Maqbul Moussa Al-Alawi is a Saudi writer, whose stories and articles have been published in local newspapers. This is his first novel.
Turmoil in Jeddah
Set towards the end of 19th century, Turmoil in Jeddah is a story of Ottoman nationalism played out in the
Khalid Al-Bari is an Egyptian writer with a degree in Medicine from
An Oriental Dance
An Oriental Dance tells the story of a young Egyptian who, on marrying an older British woman, moves to
Fawaz Haddad is a Syrian novelist born in
In an action-packed story set in
Maha Hassan is a Syrian novelist and journalist living in
Secret Rope contrasts life in
Renée Hayek was born in southern
A Short Life
A Short Life gives an eye witness account from a woman living in
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 The Theocrat (2005) and The Polymath (2004) have been translated into English by Roger Allen. His novel, Black Taste, Black Odour, was longlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2009.
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.
Waciny Laredj is a prolific Algerian author, well-known both in his
own country and in
The Andalusian House
The Andalucian House relays the history of a house in
RAZAN NAIM AL-MAGHRABI
Razan Naim Al-Maghrabi is a Libyan writer who has
published five collections of short stories and a novel called ‘
Women of Wind
Women of Wind is a moving story of female friendship and the secret lives of women. It tells the story of a Moroccan servant girl who requests the help of the women in her life to help raise enough money secure a passage on a smugglers’ ship. Before the heroine embarks on her harrowing voyage, the narrative weaves together the stories of the different women who help her, from the Iraqi woman who acts as a go-between between the heroine and the smugglers, to a female novelist and a little girl whose mother has abandoned her.
Ali Al-Muqri is a poet, journalist and novelist born in
The Handsome Jew
This historical novel tells the story of two teenagers from opposing religious backgrounds who meet and fall in love against a backdrop of Yemeni culture. The story begins in a local village when the daughter of the Imam teaches a local Jewish boy to read and write Arabic. When they decide to run away to the capital in order to be together, neither foresees the long-lasting consequences of their decision.
Fatin Al-Murr is a teacher of French literature at the
A story of love and resistance set
Khairy Shalaby was born in Kafr al-Shaykh in
Istasia is a Coptic widow living in the Egyptian Delta, who becomes a local legend when she dedicates her life to revenging the death her son through prayer. Assistance comes in the unlikely form of the son of the village’s leading Muslim family, notorious for their ruthlessness and cruelty, a lawyer who decides to investigate the case and bring Istasia’s son’s unknown murderers to justice. The moral of the story is that not every Muslim is good or Christian evil and that, no matter the religion, God will answer the prayers of anyone who has been wronged.
AMIR TAJ AL-SIR
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 café frequented by intellectuals, only to find himself the subject of police scrutiny.
Miral Al-Tahawy is an Egyptian writer currently living in
IBTISAM IBRAHIM TERESA
Ibtisam Ibrahim Teresa is a Syrian writer who has published four novels and two short story collections.
The Eye of the Sun
In The Eye of the Sun, protagonist Nasma