There are many familiar names on the International Prize for Arabic Fiction Longlist (and why shouldn’t there be?): Hoda Barakat, Elias Khoury, Sinan Antoon, Ibrahim Eissa, last year’s winner Rabee Jaber, and previous longlisters Ibrahim Nasrallah, Muhsin al-Ramli, and Waciny Laredj.
By and by, each title will be profiled at this site. But for today, I’ll just highlight a few of the new names — as I will over at Egypt Independent, although coverage is focused on more urgent matters at the moment.
Sawiris-winning young Egyptian short-story writer and novelist Mohammed Abdel Nabi was longlisted for his Return of the Sheikh. Abdel Nabi won first place in the Sawiris “young writers” category for his collection Anton Chekov’s Ghost in 2010.
He is also the translator of Hisham Matar’s Anatomy of a Disappearance.
The young Lebanese author Jana Elhassan made the list with her second novel, I, She and Other Women, one of only two female authors on the longlist. “I am just so happy, I was actually shivering and jumping around,” Elhassan said. “You can say I have mixed emotions, you don’t expect to be recognized by you first or second novel, but I have really put so much effort into this work, and I tried to be as faithful as possible to writing.”
Thirty-one-year-old also Kuwaiti author Saud Alsanousi also made the list with his second novel, The Bamboo Stalk, thus becoming the first Kuwaiti novelist to make an IPAF longlist. Kuwait-based Egyptian novelist Ibrahim Farghali chose The Bamboo Stalk as one of his favorite novels this year, saying that, “It is a very well-written novel about a young half-Kuwaiti, half-Filipino guy who lived his younger years in the Philippines, then went back to his father’s country, Kuwait, to face his destiny in a very racially conscious society. The novel draws a very good and detailed picture of both cultures and of the contradictions in both of them.”
Thirty-three-year-old Saudi author Mohamed Hassan Alwan also made the list for his second novel, The Beaver, which he began writing at an IPAF-sponsored writing workshop in 2009.
The Beaver is a portrait of a contemporary conservative bourgeois family in Riyadh. You can read an excerpt (group-translated) on Banipal.