I assume this isn’t a secret, since it went out to everyone who’s a member of the Dar Merit Facebook group. And the nominees are…(drumroll)…:

  • Creation, by Ahmad Sabri Abu Fotouh
  • Brooklyn Heights, by Miral al-Tahawy
  • The Garden Flower, by Khalid Ismail

  • رواية “التكوين” لأحمد صبري أبو الفتوح
  • رواية ” بروكلين هايتس” لميرال الطحاوي
  • رواية “زهرة البستان ” لخالد إسماعيل

I’m going to bet on Brooklyn Heights to at least make the longlist. Al-Tahawy has been mentioned by Nuruddin Farah as one of the world’s up-and-coming writers, and her Blue Aubergine (translated into English and published by AUC Press) received deserved acclaim.

Khalid Ismail’s Zahrat al Bustan (Garden Flower) received a tiny review from Al Masry Al Youm. A short excerpt was also translated by the paper into English:

I sat at the Zahrat al-Bustan Cafe. I drank my tea, read the papers, and found myself alone in this crisis. My money is running out, and I don’t know where to stay for the night…I’m not sure how ready my friends are to host me. I hadn’t imagined I would be so confused. I thought that the minute I arrive in Cairo, I would find work, a home, reach glory and become a famous star. I’d find solutions to all my problems and forget the days of grinding poverty I lived back in the country.

What of Ahmed Sabri Abu Fotouh? Last October, Al Akhbar called for his inclusion on the Arabic Booker shortlist. However, they also note that Creation is not an end in itself, but the first of a four-part series, which will include Other Days, Demons and Angels and Tales of the First Time: «أيام أخرى»، و«شياطين وملائكة»، و«حكايات أول الزمان».

Egyptian powerhouse Dar El Shorouk has also appeared on the shortlist every year. It would be interesting to know their nominees, as well as those of Al Ain, An Nahar, Al Adab….