The International Prize for Arabic Fiction has unveiled a longlist of 16 novels in contention for the 2022 award, the winner of which will receive a $50,000 cash prize.
Organisers said five judges chose the list from among 122 entries from nine countries. It includes Emirati author Reem Alkamali for her book Rose's Diary. This is the first time Alkamali, whose first novel The Straits of Hormuz was published in 2013, has made it to the award's longlist.
Some of the authors in the 2022 list have been previously recognised by the Ipaf, including Egyptian novelist Ezzedine Choukri Fishere, longlisted in 2009 for Intensive Care and shortlisted in 2012 for Embrace on Brooklyn Bridge, and Eritrean writer Haji Jabir, longlisted in 2019 for Black Foam.
Entries this year cover an extensive range of topics, from the struggle for artists to survive while facing war and state persecution, to the relationship between East and West, freedom, motherhood and gender roles.
Jordanian writer Jalal Barjas won the prize last year for his work Notebooks of the Bookseller – about a down and out bookseller who sets off on a journey of self-discovery – announced at an online ceremony in May. Besides receiving the monetary prize, Barjas was also given funding towards securing an English translation of his novel.
The Ipaf is sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, at the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi.
This year's panel of five judges is chaired by Tunisian novelist and previous Ipaf winner Shukri Mabkhout, who won the award for his 2015 book The Italian. Joining him are Libyan doctor, poet and translator Ashur Etwebi, Lebanese writer and Pen International board member Iman Humaydan, Kuwaiti poet and critic Saadiah Mufarreh and Bulgarian academic and translator Baian Rayhanova.
"Submissions for the Prize this year were of high quality, proving once again that the revival and development of the Arabic novel make it the best literary genre to give expression to the concerns of Arab peoples today, in their different local environments," Mabkhout said.
All the novels selected for the 2022 longlist were published in Arabic between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. Out of the 16, six books will be shortlisted with the titles revealed in March, and the eventual winner named in May. All six shortlisted authors will also receive $10,000 each.
The full longlist for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2022:
- Nizar Aghri – In Search of Azar (Syria)
- Boumediene Belkebir – The Alley of the Italians (Algeria)
- Yaa'rab al-Eissa – The White Minaret (Syria)
- Belal Fadl – Mother of Mimi (Egypt)
- Ezzedine Choukri Fishere – Farah's Story (Egypt)
- Tarek Imam – Cairo Maquette (Egypt)
- Haji Jabir – The Abyssinian Rimbaud (Eritrea)
- Reem Alkamali – Rose's Diary (UAE)
- Bushra Khalfan – Dilshad (Oman)
- Mohsine Loukili – The Prisoner of the Portuguese (Morocco)
- Khaled Nasrallah – The White Line of Night (Kuwait)
- Mohammed al-Nu'as – Bread on the Table of Uncle Milad (Libya)
- Rouchdi Redouane – The Hungarian (Algeria)
- Mona al-Shammari – The Maids of the Shrine (Kuwait)
- Dima al-Shukr – Where Is My Name? (Syria)
- Mohamed Tawfik – The Whisper of the Scorpion (Egypt)