The International Prize for Arabic Fiction – or, as it’s popularly known, the “Arabic Booker” – has attracted a wealth of controversy in its first four years. A number of prominent authors have refused to let their books be nominated for the prize, which has been accused of, among other things, being too closely allied with governmental powers, discriminating against women and rewarding novels that cater to western interests.
Organizers have announced the winners of the 2011 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF, or “Arabic Booker”).
This year judges have hedged their bets, as it’s not one novel, but two: The Arch and the Butterfly, by Moroccan author Mohammed Achaari, and The Doves’ Necklace, by Saudi author Raja Alem.
Al-Khamees, whose The Leafy Tree was longlisted for the 2010 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), said that Saudi women’s participation in literary clubs should be supported with specific membership quotas, according to ArabNews.
This year, journalists (and the public) had a chance to question several of the IPAF judges—including chair Fadhil al-Azzawi—at an afternoon press conference in Doha.
Two young Egyptians, a prominent Saudi, a Sudanese writer living in Qatar (where he works as a physician) and both the current Moroccan Minister of Culture and a former holder of the post are on this year’s International Prize for Arabic Fiction shortlist.
An article in Bomb magazine compares IPAF longlistee Raja Alem—or at least her reputation—to Vladimir Nabokov: “masterful, erudite, witty, and somewhat dangerous.”
As predicted, this year’s International Prize for Arabic Fiction (“Arabic Booker”) longlist has more women than in previous years. This year’s longlist is nearly 50-50, with 7 women and 9 men.