New Trustees, New Funding, 133+ Submissions for International Prize for Arabic Fiction

This week, International Prize for Arabic Fiction organizers announced a change in funding as well as three new trustees. 

The prize — which had been funded by the Emirates Foundation for its first five years — will now be floated by the newly created Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) starting in 2013.

The rumor of funding changes created a great deal of buzz at the Abu Dhabi Book Fair in the spring of this year. But, now that a new funder’s been found and everything is official, organizers have taken pains to stress that nothing will change: The chairman of the trustees is the same (Jonathan Taylor); the relationship with the Booker is the same; the prize administrator is the same (Fleur Montanaro); the mission is the same.

I hadn’t noticed that previous prize admin Joumana Haddad was listed as a consultant, but I suppose that was just my oversight.

There are at least two new things, however: 1) Three retiring trustees will be replaced by Jordanian publisher Maher Kayyali, Lebanese-American publisher Michel Moushabeck, and Emirati poet and film-maker Nujoom al-Ghanem. 2) The longlist and shortlist announcements have been moved back to December and January, respectively; in part, this was to give the judges more time. In part, it made sense, because the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair — where the winner will be revealed — has been moved back to April this year.

That’s good; the 2012 judges all seemed to have developed eye tics from too much reading, too fast.

Abu Dhabi International Book Fair organizers also said there will be more communication between the fair and the prize.

IPAF organizers said that there were at current 133 books in contention for the 2013 prize, from sixteen countries. However, that might increase with “call-ins,” or books requested by the year’s judges, whose identities are still secret.

On a related note, the Man Booker International organizers have announced that finalists for the 2013 MBI will be announced on Jan. 24 at the  Jaipur Literature Festival, with the winner being announced in May in London.


The IPAF is running a series of interviews on their website to celebrate 5 years: If you haven’t already, check out Mohga Hassib’s interview with Bahaa Taher.