The Independent’s ‘Foreign Fiction’ Longlist Features Four Arab Writers

The Best Translated Book Award (BTBA) from Open Letter Books was just awarded to The Confessions of Noa Weber (fiction) and The Russian Version (poetry), and now comes The Independent’s longlist of “best foreign fiction.”

Three Arabic titles are on the list this year: Sunset Oasis by Bahaa Taher (trans. Humphrey Davies), The Madman of Freedom Square by Hassan Blasim (trans. Jonathan Wright), and Yalo by Elias Khoury (also trans. Humphrey Davies). Also, Syrian novelist Rafik Schami’s The Dark Side of Love, (trans. Anthea Bell), which was written in German, also made the longlist.

I have reviewed Sunset Oasis and The Dark Side of Love; I have unfortunately not yet read The Madman of Freedom Square, but you can find it reviewed by M. A. Orthofer over at The Complete Review and at The Independent, and, I’m sure, elsewhere.

But despite not having read Madman or a number of other titles on the list, I have an unreasoning desire for the gorgeous, terrifying Yalo to win.

According to Boyd Tonkin over at The Independent, “The judges will meet again in mid-April to scrap over the cull that will have to shrink this formidable field into a shortlist of six.” Tonkin also writes today about the literary landscape in (part of the) Arabic-writing world.

Thanks to Jonathan for the tip about the longlist.

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