Hymns of Temptation by Laila al-Atrash published by Difaf Publications. Courtesy IPAF
Hymns of Temptation by Laila al-Atrash published by Difaf Publications. Courtesy IPAF

International Prize for Arabic Fiction long-list (IPAF) 2016 announced

The long-list for this year’s International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) has been announced, with 16 novels in contention for one of the region’s biggest literary prize.

The authors list showcases the breadth of the region’s writing talent with three writers under the age of 40 and two debut novels.

The entries were selected from a total of 159 works ranging from 18 countries. A final shortlist of six books, in addition to the identities of the judging panel, will be revelead on February 9. The eventual prize will once again be awarded in a ceremony in the capital on the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair on April 26.

Run with the support of the Booker Prize Foundation in London and funded by the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), each shortlisted finalist will receive $10,000 (Dh36,700) with a further $50,000 going to the winner in addition to a guaranteed English translation of their novel.

Palestine and Egypt are the best-represented countries on this year's longlist, with three entries apiece. Palestinian author Rabai Al-Madhoun (Destinies: Concerto of the Holocaust and the Nakba) and Egyptian Mohamed Mansi Qandil (The Black Brigade) both make a return to the honour roll, having both appeared on 2010s shortlist. The two first-time authors hail from Morocco: Tareq Bakari with Numedia and Abdennour Mezzine with Letters of the Storm. "This is an impressive longlist of novels that hail from different parts of the Arab world," said Professor Yasir Suleiman chair of the award's board of trustees, comments. "They address abiding issues that touch different aspects of our humanity in vivid and often disturbing ways that challenge preconceived ideas. Technically mature and sometimes demanding, the longlist lives up to the IPAF tradition of enticing the readers into new worlds of the creative imagination."

With an English translation provided to the winner, previous authors have also found success beyond the English-speaking world.

The award's inaugural winner in 2008, Sunset Oasis by Egypt's Bahaa Taher, was published in English by Sceptre the following year and has since gone on to be translated into a further eight languages, including Spanish.

The 2013 winner, The Bamboo Stalk by Kuwaiti author Saud Alsanousi, received its English translation last year, while 2011 joint winner The Dove's Necklace by Saudi author and poet Raja Alem will be published in the March. The 2014 IPAF winner Frankenstein in Baghdad by Iraqi novelist Ahmed Saadawi has also secured English publication with Oneworld in the UK and Penguin Books in the US with a release date yet to be announced. There has been no word yet regarding the English translation of last year's IPAF winner, he Italian by Tunisian novelist Shukri Mabkhout.

The 2016 International Prize for Arabic Fiction longlist

• Here by Taleb Alrefai (Kuwait)

• Hymns of Temptation Laila al-Atrash (Palestine/Jordan)

• Numedia by Tareq Bakari (Morocco)

• The Temple of Silken Fingers by Ibrahim Farghali (Egypt)

• People of the Palms by Janan Jasim Halawi (Iraq)

• Mariam's Journey by Mahmoud Hasan Al Jasim (Syria)

• Desertified Waters by Hazim Kamaledin (Iraq)

• Destinies: Concerto of the Holocaust and the Nakba by Rabai Al-Madhoun (Palestine)

• Letters of the Storm by Abdennour Mezzine (Morocco)

• Warsaw a Little While Ago by Ahmed Muhsin (Lebanon)

• The Prophecy Saga by Hamed Al Nazir (Sudan)

• The Black Birgade by Mohamed Mansi Qandil (Egypt)

• Mercury by Mohamed Rabie (Egypt)

• Praise for the Women of the Family by Mahmoud Shukair (Palestine)

• A Sky Close to Our House by Shahla Ujayli (Syria)

• The Guard of the Dead by George Yaraq (Lebanon)

For details visit www.arabicfiction.org

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