Barjeel Art Foundation launches Mudun Short Story Prize

The international competition invites writers to submit a work of fiction that takes place in an Arab city

The Barjeel Art Foundation has launched the Mudun Short Story Prize, an international competition that pays tribute to cities around the Arab world.

The competition invites writers to submit a work of fiction that is set in one or more Arab cities.

“Whether your story takes place in Aleppo, Beirut, Cairo, Rabat or Sharjah, we want to experience the city as you do,” the submission call reads. “By no means is this prompt a confinement to realism. Your story could spring into the realms of fantasy or even science fiction, but we would still need to see existing or past landmarks, streets or buildings of the city of your choosing.”

Stories should not be limited to showcasing a city’s architectural and urban forms, but its social dynamic as well.

People walk past a bar in Mar Mikhael neighborhood, an area that was damaged in last year's port blast, in Beirut Lebanon June 6, 2021. Picture taken June 6, 2021. REUTERS/Emilie Madi

“Tell us about the people, how they navigate spaces and occupy them,” the call reads. "Take us through your city’s traffic jams or its labyrinthine alleys. Show us its courthouse or your neighbourhood grocery store.”

The competition will be open to submissions from July 1 to September 1. Submissions can be in English or Arabic, but should not be more than 5,000 words. More than one entry by a single author will not be considered.

Manuscripts should contain a Google Maps hyperlink of where the story takes place as a footnote to the title. If a story is set in more than one location, additional hyperlinks can be included as footnotes to transition points.

Cash awards of $350 will be awarded to the first-place winner and $250 to the runner-up. The two winning stories will be published on the website of Rusted Radishes: Beirut Literary and Art Journal. All works and supplemental materials will be considered for publication in an anthology.

The judges include The National's Razmig Bedirian, Faris Bseiso, Reem Khorshid and Emirati columnist and researcher Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi.

The Mudun Short Story Prize comes almost a year after the Barjeel Art Foundation launched its poetry prize, inviting poets to respond to 20 works of Arab art from the foundation's collection. The six winners and six runners-up of the ekphrastic poetry competition were announced in December.

More information on the short story prize is here.