Countdown to the International Prize for Arabic Fiction

The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF, or “Arabic Booker”) organizers announced today that the six authors shortlisted for the 2011 prize were scheduled to arrive in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

The authors were scheduled for an intensive seven-day tour. The winner, who will take home $50,000, will be announced next Monday. Runners-up will each be given $10,000.

For those who haven’t followed along, the six shortlisted authors are:

Raja Alem for The Doves’ Necklace (Saudi Arabia) 

Miral al-Tahawy, for her Brooklyn Heights (Egypt)

Bensalam Himmich,  for My Tormentor (Morocco’s Minister of Culture)

Mohammad Achaari for The Arch and the Butterfly  (former Moroccan Minister of Culture)

Khaled al-Berry for Middle Eastern Dance (Egypt, not the minister of anything)

Amir Taj Al-Sir f or his The Hunter of the Chrysalises (Sudan)

The award has stirred controversy this year as other years, with many prominent authors—such as Egyptian authors Gamal al-Ghitani and Radwa Ashour—refusing to be nominated for the prize. Al-Ghitani questioned the philosophy and criteria of the literary prize.

Nonetheless, the award goes on. To celebrate the authors’ arrival, a “book of excerpts” from the prize’s six shortlisted novels will be published later this week. Although the Emirates News Agency doesn’t mention which English- and Arabic-language newspapers will publish the excerpts, last year excerpts were published in The National and Al Ittihad.

The prize is now in its fourth year.


  1. Here is a translation of an Arabic review of Raja Alam’s book:

    With lines like “With a fatty love, novelist Raja’ ‘Alam embodies a passion for the city of her birth in her newest work “The Dove’s Necklace””, its an interesting (if not altogether coherent) review.

    Here is the link to the original Arabic if you’re interested:

  2. Translation is courtesy I should add.

  3. I just had to add this one quote from the review:

    “Alam demonstrates a keen desire to feed the reader clear-cut writing so that they can navigate the farrago of scum spewing forth from all the pretenders and image-obsessed parasites out there.”

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