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Shortlist for the 2017 International Prize for Arabic Fiction unveiled

The shortlist for this year’s International Prize for Arabic Fiction has been announced with novels representing the best in contemporary Arabic literature.

The finalists for this year’s prize are A Small Death from Saudi Arabian author Mohammed Hasan Alwan; The Slaves’ Pens from Libya’s Najwa Binshatwan; Al-Sabiliat from Kuwaiti author Ismail Fahd Ismail; Children of the Ghetto — My Name is Adam from Lebanon’s Elias Khoury; In the Spider’s Chamber from Egyptian author Mohammed Abdel Nabi; and The Bookseller’s Murder from Iraqi author Saad Mohammed Rahim. The novels were chosen from 186 entries from 19 countries. To be eligible for this year’s prize, novels had to be published between July 2015 and June 2016.

The winner will be announced in an award ceremony held in Abu Dhabi on April 25, the night before the launch of this year’s Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. Each of the finalists will receive $10,000 [Dh 2722], with the winner awarded an additional $50,000.

“The six novels chosen from the huge number submitted to the International Prize for Arabic Fiction stand out for their brilliant artistic structure, development of characters and treatment of socially sensitive and daring subject matter,” says Palestinian author Sahar Khalifeh, who is also the chair of this year’s judging panel. “Some of them explore taboo areas, while others put their fingers on the pulse of critical situations in the complex Arab world of today and celebrate highlights of Arab heritage.”

This year’s shortlist covers a range of relevant topics. A Small Death tells the adventures of Sufi thinker Ibn Arabi. Al-Sabiliat’s focus is on a woman in southern Iraq who defies military forces in the war between Iraq and Iran. The Slaves’ Pens tackles the history of slavery in Libya. Children of the Ghetto — My Name is Adam takes a fresh look at the Palestinian nakba of 1948 and the fate of the inhabitants of Lud. The Spider’s Chamber gives a voice to a marginalised group and The Bookseller’s Murder takes a look at Iraqi civilisation after American occupation.

In an effort to spread the international reach of Arabic fiction, funding is provided for English translation to the winners. Last year’s winner of the prize was Rabai Al-Madhoun’s Destinies: Concerto of the Holocaust and the Nakba – the novel will be published in English later this year.

The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is an annual literary prize, supported by the Booker Prize Foundation in London and funded by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.

For details go to www.ipaf.org

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