International Prize for Arabic Fiction Longlist Profiles: ‘The Vagrant’

Jabbour Douaihy, whose acclaimed novel June Rain was shortlisted for the inaugural International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2008, is on the 2012 IPAF longlist again for The Vagrant.

Douaihy, whose June Rain should be out in English translation from Bloomsbury-Qatar next year, was born in Zgharta, northern Lebanon, in 1949. He currently works as Professor of French Literature at the University of Lebanon, although he told IPAF organizers in an interview, “The truth is that I am no longer any good for anything apart from novel-writing.”

The Vagrant revisits the Lebanese civil war through the eyes of a young man. According to the blurb from IPAF, “the hero represents the crisis of the Lebanese individual imposed upon by a sectarian reality.”

In an interview with IPAF organizers, Douaihy said, “I began The Vagrant in 2007 after noticing the confusion which occurred during the funeral and burial of a friend who was born Muslim but brought up Christian. He inherited from his new family and died while living with his first one. So two mourning notices of his death were posted in the streets, one according to the Christian tradition and the other Islamic. That was a starting point, which later became interwoven with other lives and personal and general experiences and the evocation of a generation of Lebanese people attracted to Leftist ideals and scattered by the Lebanese wars.”

Douaihy added that “perhaps the Lebanese civil war and the oppressive compartmentalising of people may help to bring to the light these contradictions and some of the tragic stories of those who are caught in the confrontation against their will.”


The Vagrant has won this year’s Hana Wakim Prize.


An interview with Douaihy about June Rain (in English)

Douaihy’s Autumn Equinox was translated into English by Nay Hannawi, for which Hannawi won the Arkansas Arabic Translation Award.

Douaihy also contributed to the brilliant new Reflections on Islamic Art, edited by Ahdaf Soueif, with an essay on “St. Jerome as the Representation of Melancholy.”

Buy the IPAF longlisted books:

If you can’t get them in your local independent bookstore, Neelwafurat has a page dedicated to the IPAF longlist.

Other longlist profiles:

Fadi Azzam’s Sarmada

Habib Selmi’s The Women’s Orchards

Ezzedine Choukri Fishere’s ‘Embrace at the Brooklyn Bridge’

Hawra al-Nadawi’s ‘Under the Copenhagen Sky’