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Saturday, 15 November 2008

International Arabic Fiction Prize 2009 (in conjunction with London's Booker Foundation)

November 15

By Suzan Abrams

Kafez is the first English-language blog on the web to present news of the 2009 International Arabic Fiction Prize longlist, aside from world news media agencies 3 days ago.

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*Pictured is award-winning Egyptian novelist Baha Taher, in a rare publicity photo shot from ArabicFictionOrg.

A few days ago, the organizers for the *International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2009, held in association with the Booker Prize Foundation in London and helped along by the Emirates Foundation, announced that 16 Arab authors had been selected for the longlist.

They included three from Egypt, two from Syria, Iraq, Morocco, Palestine and Lebanon and one author each from Tunisia, Libya and Yemen.

Only two women from Iraq and Lebanon had been chosen from a panel comprising five judges from Europe and the Middle-East.

Here are the longlist titles :

The Bottle and the Genie by Mohammad Abu Maatouk
The Tobacco Guard by Ali Badr
Hunger by Mohammad Al Bsati
The Unfaithful Translator by Fawaz Haddad
The Man from Andalucia by Salem Hameesh
Prayer for the Family by Renee Hayek
Confessions by Rabih Jaber
Platoon of Ruin by Abdel Kareem Jouaitlv
The American Granddaugher by Inaam Kachachi
The Tumour by Ibrahim Al Koni
Black Taste, Black Odour by Ali Al Muqri
Time of White Horses by Ibrahim Nasrallah
The Scents of Marie-Claire by Al Habib Salmi
Intensive Care by Izzedin Shukri
Ma' Al Sama' by Yehya Yekhlef &
Beelzebub by Yussef Zeydan

Lest you lament on the dismal number of women, only 17 entries had been submitted by female writers whereas 104 novels were enthusiastically submitted by men. This should put an even keel on things. Entries came from afar as Oman, Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Kuwait.

The prestigous prize for eloquent Arabic prose is running for the second successful year. A shortlist of 10 authors will be announced on December 10 in London and the prize-giving ceremony held on March 16, 2009 in Abu Dhabi, on the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Literary Festival - the first of its kind in the Arab world.

Each of the shortlisted authors can be assured of a US10,000 prize each while the winner bags US$50,000.

In a statement sent to **Gulf News by the Board of Trustees, Jonathan Taylor who is its chairman observed that the long list "demonstrates the quality and diversity of contemporary Arabic writing." He wrote that it deserves a wider audience and that the prize should help secure that.

Last year's winner was the once banned but widely-travelled Egyptian writer and United Nations translator, Baha Taher. His fifth prized novel is called Wahat al-Ghuroub meaning Sunset Oasis. The novel which talks about the 19th century cultural, social and political implications on a remote village and oasis on the outskirts of Cairo under British rule, is currently being translated into English for the world.

Here are some pictures from last year's Prize Giving Ceremony.


*The International Prize for Arabic Fiction aims to reward excellence in contemporary Arabic creative writing and to encourage wider readership of quality Arabic literature internationally.

**Information partially from Gulf News.

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