Al-Multaqa Prize for the Short Story has announced its inaugural longlist, for collections published in 2015-2016:
The new Kuwait-based prize is unusual in celebrating the overlooked short-story genre.
As Jordanian short-story writer Hisham Bustani said a few years back, in praise of 2016 Multaqa longlistee Anis Arafai”: “Finding a writer dedicated to the short experimental form in the age where the fast-food novel has conquered all with its commodification, glitter, and market-sponsored fame can be similar to finding a needle in a haystack.”
Yet there was a strong core of submissions for the first prize, which promises $20,000 and translation into English. There were a whopping 189 collections in contention, sent in from 15 different countries. There is a wide range of nationalities on the longlist — two Palestinians, but every other author from a different country — yet only one collection by a woman, Khadija al-Nimr.
The list features several younger and more experimental writers, including Palestinian poet and experimental short-story writer Mazen Maarouf, who is better-known in translation for his poetry; experimental Moroccan short-story writer Anis Arafai, who has featured in Banipal and The Common; and young Egyptian writer Mohamed Rafie.
The ten-strong longlist:
1. Ahmed Omar’s “Hudhud fi Zujaja” (“Hoopoe in a Bottle”) (Syria)
2. Anis Arafai’s “Masahat al-Dumi” (“Clinic for Dolls”) (Morocco)
3. Haider Abdelmohsen’s “Qutat Aareya” (“Naked Cats”) (Iraq)
4. Khadija Al-Nimr’s “Al-Afkar al-Sabeha Bayn al-Sama’ w al-Ard” (“Ideas Hanging Between Earth and Sky”) (Saudi)
5. Ziad Khadash “Asbab Rae’a lel Buka'” (“Wonderful Reasons to Cry”) (Palestine)
6. Abdel Samea bin Saber “Al Skabandu” (Morocco)
7. Issa Jabli “Ka’an Amdi Khalf Juthati” (“As If I Went Behind the Bodies”) (Tunisia)
8. Lutf al-Sarari “Al-Raja’ Adam al-Qasf” (“Please Don’t Bomb”) (Yemen)
9. Mazen Maarouf, “Nokat al-Musalaheen” (“Jokes for the Gunmen”) (Palestine-Iceland)
10. Mohamed Rafie, “Asal al-Nun” (Egypt)
The five judges were also announced: Ahmed al-Madeeni (chair), Ezzat al-Qamhawi, Dr. Ali Ajail al-Anezi, Dr. Fadia Faqir, and Salma Saleh.
A five-collection shortlist is set to be announced in November, with a winner announced in December at the American University of Kuwait.
Short stories by Anis Arafai:
“The Leg,” translated by Emma Ramadan
“Minouche,” translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp