And the Nominations for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction Begin…

The season of the 2012 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF, or, if you must, “Arabic Booker”) has begun.

According to Shorouk and Al Masry Al Youm, two IPAF nominations of Egyptian novels have been publicized: Al-Dar al-Arabiya is nominating Ashraf al-Ashmawy’s novel The Time of Hyenas and Al-Dar al-Masriya al-Lebnaneya has nominated Nasser Iraq’s The Unemployed.

Last year, there were 123 submissions for the prize from 17 countries. Egyptian publishing houses sent in the largest number of novels.

The Time of the Hyenas, al-Ashmawy’s first novel, is an animal fable set in a fictional forest, populated by a lion king, donkeys, hyenas, and a lazy hippo. Iraq’s novel follows a young middle-class man who travels to Dubai, where he is jailed on charges of murdering a Russian prostitute.

Both novels came out just before protests began on January 25.

Another novel that was published just at the time of the uprising in Egypt—that I’m expecting will be nominated for the IPAF—is Youssef Rakha’s Book of the Sultan’s Seal, published by Dar el Shorouk. Of course, to be nominated, Rakha must be willing to agree to do a little song and dance:

The winner and the shortlisted authors must agree, by having submitted their works, to be available for promotional activities such as tours and media appearances related to the Prize, both in the Arab world and abroad.

Which is one reason why one should not expect to see Sonallah Ibrahim’s latest novel on the IPAF lists.

The closing date for submissions is June 30.