New $20K Prize for Arabic Short-story Collections Launched in Kuwait

A major new Arabic-literature prize — the Cultural Circle Prize for the Arabic Short Story or AlMultaqa — launched this morning at a news conference in Kuwait:

The $20,000 prize is a joint effort of the American University of Kuwait and the “Cultural Circle,” a local literary discussion group headed up by Kuwaiti writer Taleb Alrefai, who also chairs AlMutaqa’s Board of Trustees. The nine-member board boasts internationally known Kuwaiti writers Ismail Fahd Ismail and Nada Faris.

12346584_993391867420168_6877397308534003239_nThis new prize looks similar to the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), for which Alrefai was judging chair in 2010. But AlMutaqa stands out in that it’s not for a novel, but for a form that gets much less attention: “a collection of short stories published in hardcopy in the Arabic language.”

The prize’s first edition will accept submissions between January 1 and March 31. Unlike for the IPAF, AlMutaqa submissions will be accepted from either the author or the publisher: Each publisher may submit two short-story collections and each writer may submit one. Collections must’ve been published the year previous to their submission.

A five-member jury will announce a 10-collection longlist on October 15, and this list will be “determined by the majority” of the jury. At that time, the names of that year’s jury members will also be revealed. A five-collection shortlist will be announced on November 15, followed by a winner on December 1. A prize ceremony will be held mid-December at the American University in Kuwait.

In addition to the $20,000 monetary award, the prize will also provide support toward the collection’s English-language translation and publication.

AlMutaqa Prize is further backed up by an advisory board made up of ten internationally recognized authors, translators, critics, and academics, including such forces as publisher Ibrahim ElMoallem; Morocco’s former culture minister and IPAF-winner Mohammed Achaari; Banipal editor and novelist Samuel Shimon; and translators Jonathan Wright and Kaoru Yamamoto.

More details are available at That’s also where submissions will be accepted beginning January 1.