2014 International Prize for Arabic Fiction Longlist Announced

The longlist for this year’s International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) is in, and the still-anonymous judges have chosen the maximum number — 16 novels:


A number of well-known authors are on the list, including Egypt’s Ibrahim Abdelmeguid, with his third in a trilogy, Clouds Over Alexandria; previously shortlisted Sudanese author Amir Tag Elsir with 366; popular Egyptian author Ahmed Mourad with The Blue Elephant, Kuwait’s Ismail Fahd Ismail with his The Phoenix and the Faithful Friend, and acclaimed Syrian author Khaled Khalifa for his No Knives in this City’s Kitchens, which also won the 2013 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature.

Others on the list who have been previously longlisted for the award include Iraqi novelist Inaam Kachachi, on the list this year for Tashari, Palestinian novelist Ibrahim Nasrallah, listed for The Edge of the Abyss, and Algerian novelist Waciny Laredj, longlisted for the third time for his Ashes of the East: The Wolf Who Grew Up in the Wilderness.

Ahmed Saadawi, who’s on the list for his Frankenstein in Baghdad, took part in the IPAF “nadwa” in 2012, under the tutelage of his fellow longlisters Inaam Kachachi and Amir Tag Elsir. Last year’s shortlisted novelist Mohammad Hassan Alwan also had taken part in an IPAF nadwa, or writer’s retreat. An excerpt from Saadawi’s novel appeared in the Beirut39 anthology.

Just as last year, there are only two women on the longlist: Saudi writer Badryah el-Bishr and Iraqi novelist Inaam Kachachi.

In a news release, the 2014 Chair of Judges — whose name will be revealed with the shortlist next month — commented on the longlist that, in looking at the novels, “themes include the socio-political problems currently experienced in many parts of the Arab world, especially the violence and displacement inflicted upon religious and ethnic minorities.” The shortlist is set to be announced on February 10 in Amman, Jordan.

There were a record 156 entries this year, markedly up from 2013’s 133. According to IPAF organizers, there has been a marked increase in publishers submitting to the prize — from 68 last year to 86 this year.

The full list, in alphabetical order:

Title Author Nationality Publisher
Clouds Over Alexandria Ibrahim Abdelmeguid (@ibmeguid) Egyptian Dar al-Shorouq
Love Stories on al-Asha Street Badryah El-Bishr @badriahalbeshr Saudi Arabian Dar al-Saqi
The Bearer of the Purple Rose Antoine Douaihy Lebanese Arab Scientific Publishers
366 Amir Tag Elsir @amirelsir Sudanese Arab Scientific Publishers
A Rare Blue Bird that Flies with Me Youssef Fadel Moroccan Dar al-Adab
The Season of Pike Fishing Ismail Ghazali Moroccan Dar al-Ain
The Phoenix and the Faithful Friend Ismail Fahd Ismail Kuwaiti Arab Scientific Publishers
Tashari Inaam Kachachi Iraqi Dar al-Jadid
No Knives in this City’s Kitchens Khaled Khalifa Syrian Dar al-Ain
God’s Land of Exile Ashraf al-Khamaisi Egyptian Al-Hadara
Ashes of the East: The Wolf who Grew Up in the Wilderness Waciny Laredj @Waciny_Laredj Algerian Al-Jamal
The Journeys of ‘Abdi, known as Son of Hamriya Abdelrahim Lahbibi Moroccan Africa East
The Blue Elephant Ahmed Mourad Egyptian Dar al-Shorouq
The Edge of the Abyss Ibrahim Nasrallah @i_nasrallah23 Jordanian -Palestinian Arab Scientific Publishers
The Sad Night of Ali Baba Abdel Khaliq al-Rikabi Iraqi The Arab Institute for Research and Publishing
Frankenstein in Baghdad Ahmed Saadawi @saadawi111 Iraqi Al-Jamal

There are some issues with the table in Arabic, but you can see it here.


  1. Reblogged this on Assemism and commented:
    Interesting titles, and other mediocre ones.

  2. Seems we have quite a conservative jury this year as well, they’re still pretty much steering clear of more adventurous/experimental writing. But at least Lahbibi sounds interesting, and the snippet from Ahmad al-Ghazali’s book in Beirut 39 made me want to read the whole book.

    1. Yes, I can’t remember whether Youssef Rakha, for instance, signs on to have his books nominated, or Nael al-Toukhy, but that sort of more boundary-bending writing is generally missing. I suppose we have to wait another month to see who the judges are!

      1. Ok, so it’s the writers themselves that sign on? I imagined it was all up to the publishing houses. That might explain a few absentees. Actually, Rakha and el-Toukhy were exactly the ones I was thinking of, along with Salim Barakat’s حورية الماء وبناتها , which is really Way Out There, even by his standards.

        1. It’s the publishers who submit the 3 titles, but authors have to sign a form saying that they’re willing to do some stuff, like travel around and promote the novel under the IPAF auspices, I think. Radwa Ashour for instance said she’s not going in for the award. Gamal al-Ghitani too, I believe.

          So publishers choose, but they need an AOK from the author.

  3. Really?! That was interesting to hear, I had no idea they had such conditions. Then we’ve suddenly come quite a long way from The Greatest Arabic Novel of the Year, Full Stop. (If the Nobel Committe had used the same standards, well then we’d have no Munro, Pinter, Beckett … or Mahfouz among the laureates.) It puts the whole procedure in a very different light.
    (And basically that means I just might stop hoping for Salim Barakat among the nominees, since he refuses to travel anywhere or promote anything…)

    1. One imagines it’s some sort of failsafe against the author turning down the prize?

      1. Aah, the Sonallah Ibrahim Paragraph! 😉 You’re probably right.

Comments are closed.