2016 International Prize for Arabic Fiction Longlist: Taleb Alrefai’s ‘Here’

Taleb Alrefai was previously a judging chair for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. According to the 2016 longlist release:

Taleb-Alrefai,-Chair-of-JudgesTaleb Alrefai is a Kuwaiti novelist, born in 1958. He is the author of a number of works including The Shade of the Sun (1998), Petty Thefts (2011) and The Dress (2009). In 2002, he won the Kuwaiti State Prize for Literature for his novel Scent of the Sea. Between 2003 and 2008, he worked for the Kuwaiti National Council of Culture, Arts and Literature and edited the monthly arts review, Jaridat Al Funoon. He currently works as cultural advisor to the Kuwaiti Minister of Media, and teaches creative writing at the American University in Kuwait. In addition to writing fiction, he has published several literary and historical studies. He was Chair of judges for the 2010 International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

Here is an unflinching portrayal of the suffering endured by a young, single Shiite woman from Kuwait who falls in love with a married Sunni man with children. The title of the novel alludes to the significance of the many places in the story. ‘Here’ is the office where the narrator works and the flat where the heroine, Kawthar, chooses to live alone. It is the home of her Shiite family, who refuse to let their daughter marry a Sunni man, and it is also Kuwait, a country still clinging to its traditions.