International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2019 shortlist unveiled

News - Prizes Wednesday, 06 February 2019

Six authors in the running for the $50,000 prize; the winner will be announced 23 April

Hoda Barakat, Adel Esmat, Inaam Kachachi, Mohammed AlMaazuz, Shahla Ujayli and Kafa Al-Zou'bi have been announced as the six authors shortlisted for the 12th International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), each receiving $10,000.

The 2019 shortlist is:

Hoda Barakat, The Night Mail (Lebanon) Dar al-Adab
Adel Esmat, The Commandments (Egypt) Kotob Khan
Inaam Kachachi, The Outcast (Iraq) Dar al-Jadid
Mohammed AlMaazuz, What Sin Caused her to Die? (Morocco) Cultural Book Centre
Shahla Ujayli, Summer with the Enemy (Syria) Difaf Publishing
Kafa Al-Zou’bi, Cold White Sun (Jordan) Dar al-Adab

This year's shortlisted novels, selected from a longlist of 16 and published in Arabic between July 2017 and June 2018, showcase the best of contemporary Arabic fiction, exploring issues of 'belonging, societal changes over generations of Arab families and the ongoing battle against the fundamental flaws of human nature.'

The winner of $50,000 prize will be announced at a ceremony in Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi on 23 April, the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. Last year's winner was The Second War of the Dog by Ibrahim Nasrallah.

Three female authors who have been recognised by the prize before have made the 2019 list, including Inaam Kachachi (shortlisted for The American Granddaughter in 2009 and again in 2014 for Tashari); Shahla Ujayli (pictured), the youngest on the list (a participant in the prize's Nadwa in 2014 and shortlisted for A Sky Close to Our House in 2016); and Lebanese Hoda Barakat (longlisted for The Kingdom of the Earth in 2013).

These three authors are competing with the Egyptian novelist Adel Esmat, whose 2015 award-winning Tales of Yusrus is already available to read in English; Moroccan political anthropologist Mohammed Al-Maazuz, who reaches the list with his second novel; and Jordanian writer Kafa Al-Zou’bi, who is shortlisted with her fifth novel. With four women shortlisted, this year has the highest number since the prize began in 2008 (there were two women in 2011, 2015 and 2018).

Charafdin Majdolin, chair of the 2019 judging panel, said: "The six novels chosen are very different in their subject matter, styles and aesthetic choices. They can be described as novels about family, memory, disappointment, exile and migration and they reflect varied local environments, coming as they do from different Arabic countries. These novels convey deep, mature and powerful visions of the current Arab reality, while also employing brilliant narrative forms that will resonate with readers and professional critics alike."

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