Longlist Announced for International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2011
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 Abu Dhabi, UAE, in April 2007, and is
supported by the Booker Prize Foundation and the Emirates Foundation for
The Shortlist will be announced
December 2010 at a press conference in Doha, Qatar
The Winner will be
announced at the Award Ceremony on 14
March 2011 in Abu Dhabi
THE 2011 LONGLIST
Mohammed Achaari is a poet and novelist from Morocco. He is the head of the Union of
Moroccan Writers and was Minister of Culture from 1998 to 2007. He has
published a number of works of fiction and poetry, some of which has been
translated into French, Spanish, Russian and Dutch.
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 Paris, has died a martyr in Afghanistan. The novel looks at the impact of
this shocking news on the life of its hero and consequently on his relationship
with his wife.
Raja Alem is a well-known Saudi novelist living in Mecca. She has published a number of
novels and plays. Two of her works, written in collaboration with American
novelist and cinematographer Tom McDonough, have been published in English: Fatma: A Novel of Arabia (2002) and My Thousand and One Nights (2007). In The Doves’ Necklace, she defends the old
town of Mecca which is threatened with
destruction in the name of modernisation.
The Doves’ Necklace
The sordid underbelly of the holy
city of Mecca is revealed in this astonishing
story. The world painted by heroine Aisha embraces everything from prostitution
and religious extremism to the exploitation of foreign workers under a mafia of
building contractors, who are destroying the historic areas of the city. This
bleak scene is contrasted with the beauty of Aisha’s love letters to her German
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 Arabian Gulf. When an Arab naval captain pulls
down the British flag on his ship and raises the Ottoman flag in its place, he
provokes outrage from the British Consul, the ship’s protector, and events
spiral out of control, culminating in bloodshed and a popular uprising against
Khalid Al-Bari is an Egyptian writer with a degree in Medicine from Cairo University. He has lived in London for over 10 years. He has published
two books, one of which is a biography.
An Oriental Dance
An Oriental Dance tells the story of a young Egyptian who, on marrying
an older British woman, moves to England. Through his eyes, the reader is
given a vivid account of the struggles and relationships of the Arab expatriate
community living in the UK.
Fawaz Haddad is a Syrian novelist born in Damascus. A full-time writer, he has
published several novels and a collection of short stories. He was shortlisted
for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2009 for The Unfaithful Translator and was on the judging panel for the
Hannah Meeena Novel contest in 2003 and the Almazraa Novel contest in 2004. A
chapter from his novel Passing Scene was
published in English in Banipal Magazine
in 2008, translated by Paul Starkey.
In an action-packed story set in
modern-day Iraq, a father goes in search of his son
who has joined Al-Qaeda, hoping to take him back to Syria. Despite the protection of the
American and Syrian Secret Services, the father is kidnapped by his adversaries
and, along the way, finds himself in an audience with the real-life character
Abu Muses al-Zarqawi, once Iraq’s most notorious insurgent.
Maha Hassan is a Syrian novelist and journalist living in France, who has published her work in a
number of Arabic newspapers and online. She is the author of two novels, but
she has been banned from publishing in Syria since 2000. In 2008 she lived for a
year in the former, renovated apartment of Anne Frank and her family at the
Amsterdam Merwedeplein, at the invitation of Amsterdam Vluchtstad.
Secret Rope contrasts life in Syria and France through the story of a mother and
daughter. After her marriage in Syria, the daughter finds she must return
to France to pursue a life of freedom that
she cannot achieve in her homeland.
Renée Hayek was born in southern Lebanon and studied philosophy at the Lebanese University, before embarking on a career in
journalism and literary translation. She is the author of a collection of short
stories called Portraits for
Forgetfulness (1994) and one of the stories within the collection, The Phone Call, was translated into
English and included in Hikayat: Short
Stories by Lebanese Women. Her novel, Prayer
for the Family, was longlisted for the International Prize for Arabic
Fiction in 2009.
A Short Life
A Short Life gives an eye witness account from a woman living in Lebanon during the long years of Civil War.
Writing in the present tense, the reader is given an insight into daily life in
wartime, from the difficulties and dangers of travelling across the country to
the war’s effect on social life, from family to relationships with friends who
have remained and those who have sought a new life abroad.
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 France. His books are published in Arabic
and French. He has won a number of prizes for his work, including the Sheikh
Zayed Prize for Literature in 2007.
The Andalusian House
The Andalucian House relays the history of a house in Granada through the stories of the people
who live there over the centuries. Amongst its many residents are two famous,
real-life characters: the first, Dali Mami, a sixteenth-century pirate who
fought for the Turks and was responsible, amongst other things, for Miguel de
Cervantes's period of captivity in Algeria and the second Emperor Napoleon III,
whose wife Eugenie was born in Granada.
RAZAN NAIM AL-MAGHRABI
Razan Naim Al-Maghrabi is a Libyan writer who has
published five collections of short stories and a novel called ‘Ala Madar Al-Hamal.
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 Yemen. Al-Muqri started writing at the
age of 18. After the reunification of Yemen in 1990, he became a cultural
editor for various publications. Since 1997, he has been editor of Al-Hikma, a literary publication of the
Yemeni Writer’s Association. He also heads a literary journal called Ghaiman
which was established in 2007. His novel, The
Man from Andalucia, was longlisted for the International Prize for Arabic
Fiction in 2009.
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 Lebanese University. She has published a novel and a
short story collection.
A story of love and resistance set
in Lebanon. Told from the perspective of a
female narrator, Common Sins moves
between southern Lebanon, Beirut and London and gives a perceptive view of the
resistance in southern Lebanon.
Khairy Shalaby was born in Kafr al-Shaykh in Egypt’s Nile Delta in 1938. He has
written over 70 books, including novels, short stories, historical tales, and
critical studies. The Lodging House
was awarded the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature in 2003 and he won the
State Prize for Literature in 2005. His books have been translated into several
languages including English, French, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Urdu and
Hebrew, and some adapted for film and television. The Lodging House (2006) and The
Times Travels of the Pickle and Sweet Vendor (2010) have both been
translated into English.
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
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 New York. Her first novel, The Tent, was widely acclaimed when it
was first published in Arabic and was published in English by the AUC Press in
2000. Her other works have also been translated into different languages,
including English, French and Spanish.
Brooklyn Heights tells the story of the New York’s Arab immigrants and those who live
among them through the eyes of the female narrator. By contrasting her
experiences in her chosen home, America, and her homeland Egypt, she reveals the problematic
relationship between East and West. It is a story of fundamentalism and
tolerance, loss and hope in love. Simple yet full of rich detail, the novel
evokes the atmosphere of America over the last decade.
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
returns to Syria after years in exile in Sweden and is forced to confront painful
memories. Her story reveals a past filled with conflict: from domestic turmoil
under a cruel and manipulative father, to political upheaval affecting both her
family and the entire population of Aleppo. As well as relating the events
that shaped her life up until the present, the novel explores the relationships
she has with the men in her life, from her father and brother to her lovers,
the man who tortures her and the man to whom she is now married.