This morning, the 16-strong longlist for the 2015 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) was announced:
The selected titles were pulled from a list of 180 entries from 15 countries. That’s way up from 2014’s record 156 entries this year, which itself was markedly up from 2013’s 133 submissions.
Another notable shift is in the number of women writers. Outside of 2011, when there were seven women and nine men on the longlist, women have been a distinctly minority presence, with only one or two books on the longlist each year, and gender has been a point of contention each year.
This is also the first year when two brothers appear on the list together: Lebanese authors Jabbour and Antoine Douaihy.
The 2015 Chair of Judges, whose identity won’t be revealed until the shortlist announcement on February 13, comments in a prepared statement: “With 180 books to consider, it was certainly a challenge to decide on just 16 books, but this varied list showcases writers from a range of artistic schools and generations.”
Several of this year’s longlisted authors have appeared on previous IPAF longlists and shortlists. Two have been previously shortlisted: celebrated Lebanese author Jabbour Douaihy for The Vagrant (2012) and June Rain (2008) and Jana Elhassan for Me, She and the Other Women (2013).
Authors previously longlisted include: Jabbour’s brother Antoine Douaihy, for his The Bearer of the Purple Rose (2014); Maha Hassan, Umbilical Cord (2011), and Ashraf al-Khamaisi, God’s Land of Exile (2014). One of the longlisted authors, acclaimed Moroccan novelist Mohammed Berrada, is a former judge of the Prize, having been on the panel in its inaugural year, 2008.
The 2014 winner of the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature, Hammour Ziada’s The Longing of the Dervish, is also on the longlist.
As in the past, a number of acclaimed novels by well-known authors were left off the longlist, such as Mansoura Ezz Eldin’s The Emerald Mountain and Ismail Fahd Ismail’s El-Tagy’s Birds. Since Ezz Eldin and Fahd Ismail were on the IPAF lists in the past, they do not take up one of their publisher’s three slots and can be submitted on top of other books, so were almost certainly sent in.
This is the prize’s eighth year.
The IPAF’s six-novel shortlist will be revealed in Casablanca on February 13, along with the judges’ list, and the winner will be announced at an awards ceremony in Abu Dhabi on May 6, the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. The six shortlisted finalists will receive $10,000, with a further $50,000 going to the winner.