Yesterday, Sheikh Zayed Book Award organizers announced the prize’s ten-book longlist for the “literature” category, which comprises both poetry and narrative works:

szba1This year, a number of well-known authors are on the list, including Griffin Prize-winning Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan, prominent Egyptian poet and memoirist Alaa Khaled, acclaimed Lebanese poet and novelist Abbas Beydoun, Naguib Mahfouz Medal winning Moroccan novelist and philosopher Bensalem Himmich, celebrated Moroccan poet and novelist Ahmed al-Madini, and multi-award-winning Egyptian novelist Ibrahim Abdelmeguid.

This year, no women’s works made the list.

The prize, which runs alongside the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and also awards its prizes at the Abu Dhabi Book Fair, has yet to find its feet. Last year, the prize went to the Egyptian novelist AbdulRasheed Mahmoudi for his lukewarm novel After Coffee. In 2012 and 2013, the prize was withheld due in part to its layered judging system: Different (anonymous) committees select the longlist, shortlist, and winner.

But this year finds the longlist dominated by prominent authors; presumably it won’t be hard for the committees to find a worthy shortlist and winner.

The list of 10

Poetry

Wife of Salt, by Palestinian Yousef Abu Loz (2013)

Catheterization, by Emirati Kareem Matouq (2014)

No Moles to Lead My Mother to Me, by Palestinian Ghassan Zaqtan (2014).

Novels

The Healers, by Lebanese Abbas Beydoun (2014)

A Businesswoman, by Moroccan Bensalem Himmich (2013)

The Madmen of Bethlehem, by Palestinian Osama Alaysa (2013)

This is Cairo, by Egyptian Ibrahim Abdelmeguid (2014)

Sharp Curve, by Egyptian Ashraf El Khamaysi (2014)

Memoir

Faces from Alexandria, Egyptian Alaa Khaled (2012)

My Share of Paris, by Moroccan Ahmed El Madini (2014)

The longlisted authors in English translation:

Three poems by Ghassan Zaqtan, trans. Fady Joudah

The Atheists of Paris, Abbas Beydoun, trans. Maged Zaher

“Writing the Language of Absence,” an essay by Abbas Beydoun

Excerpt of Bensalem Himmich’s The Polymath, trans. Roger Allen

Poems by Alaa Khaled, trans. Robin Moger

An excerpt from Khaled’s longlisted Faces of Alexandria, trans. Robin Moger

Interviews with longlisted authors:

Ibrahim Abdelmeguid: ‘The Hero is the City’

Ashraf al-Khamaisi on Writing Bedouin Lives, Thinking Globally

Profiles of longlisted authors

Youssef Rakha’s profile of Alaa Khaled

5 thoughts on “Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s 2015 Literature Longlist Features Prominent Authors

  1. All these novels are not really worthy of notice! The problem of these cash-littered prizes offered by these Gulf princes and princesses is that no quality of style or depth of content are put into account during the selection. Novels (and even verse) that is being published in the region is very down-graded by the majority of critics in and abroad the region.

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    1. I agree that the Sheikh Zayed Book Award does not have a track record of picking strong novels. But I don’t hold it against the novels — you have read all of these on the list?

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