Two Palestinian authors named on shortlist for Ipaf 2024 award

Prize will be presented in UAE capital one day before Abu Dhabi International Book Fair starts

Each nominee will receive $10,000, with the winner being awarded an additional $50,000. Photo: International Prize for Arabic Fiction
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The International Prize for Arabic Fiction has announced its shortlist for 2024.

The writers represent a diverse selection, with four men and two women from five countries selected. Each will receive $10,000, with the winner being awarded an additional $50,000 at a ceremony in the UAE capital on April 28, the night before the start of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

The shortlisted works are Bahbel: Makkah Multiverse 1945-2009 by Saudi author Raja Alem, Suleiman's Ring by Syrian author Rima Bali, The Seventh Heaven of Jerusalem from Palestinian writer Osama Al Eissa, A Mask, the Colour of the Sky by Palestinian Basim Khandaqji, Gambling on the Honour of Lady Mitsy by Egyptian novelist Ahmed Al Morsi and The Mosaicist by Eissa Nasiri of Morocco.

This year’s panel of judges is led by Syrian writer Nabil Suleiman. The panel also includes Palestinian writer, researcher and academic Sonia Nimr, Czech academic Frantisek Ondras, Egyptian critic and journalist Mohamed Shoair and Sudanese writer and journalist Hammour Ziada.

“The shortlisted novels offer us a profound fictional excavation of history, where the distant and more recent past and future intersect. Various civilisations and artistic forms are interwoven with their narratives. Their subjects include war, the body and family breakdown, questions of identity, oppression, cruelty, as well as individual and collective human longing for freedom and justice,” said Suleiman.

“With passion and perception, the novels engage with the wars, exiles and uprisings endured by the Arab world at the current moment. Their rich creative worlds are not limited to their localities but span the globe, highlighting common struggles. Their visions and aesthetic expressions are diverse, tinged with self-awareness and imaginative verve.”

Meanwhile, professor Yasir Suleiman, chair of the board of trustees, said the shortlisted works give a “nuanced sense of place in which a varied tapestry of humanity is reflected.”

“The novels of the shortlist for this year dig deep into the past to excavate the present. This results in haunting narratives that weave their stories from fracture, aided by the resurrection of memories of a vanishing past and the pursuit of hope dashed by inevitable oblivion,” he said.

“Through all of this we find ourselves in the Makkah of bygone years, the Old City of Jerusalem of tormented present, and in the city of Aleppo in which the scars of the recent past are indelibly marked on the bodies of its people in their rich demography. And this is the first time in the history of the Prize that a novel from [literally] behind the walls of an Israeli jail reaches out to readers on the other side.”

Updated: February 15, 2024, 3:07 PM