Al Multaqa Prize for the Arabic Short Story has announced its sophomore longlist, featuring collections by acclaimed Iraqi writer Luay Hamza Abbas (Closing His Eyes) and Iraq + 100 contributor Diaa Jubaili, by Syrian author Shahla Ujayli, previously shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, and a number of other celebrated authors:
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. Its inaugural prize went, last December, to Mazen Maarouf’s Jokes for the Gunmen, forthcoming in English translation by Jonathan Wright.
The second-ever longlist, announced October 1, features books published between January 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017. There were 239 submissions from twenty countries, with the lion’s share coming from Egypt (90), followed by Iraq (20), Jordan (19), Morocco (19), Syria (13), Algeria (11), Saudi (11), Palestine (11), Yemen (9), Sudan (8), Tunisia (8), Bahrain (5), Oman (3), Qatar (3), Lebanon (3), Kuwait (2), Libya (1), Chad (1), Belgium (1), and the UK (1).
That’s up markedly from last year, when there were 189 collections in contention for the prize, sent in from 15 different countries.
Seventy collections by women were submitted, compared to 169 by men.
This year’s five-person jury is chaired by Hassan Al-Naimi, and the ten-book longlist includes:
Syrian writer Shahla Ujayli for “سرير بنت الملك” (A Bed of the King’s Daughter)
Egyptian author Amal Radwan for “شكولاتة سوداء” (Dark Chocolate)
Syrian author Tamim Henidi for “ليثيوم” (Lithium)
Iraqi writer Zuhair Karim for “ماكينة كبيرة تدهس المارة” (A Large Machine that Runs Over Pedestrians)
Iraqi writer Diaa Jubaili for “حديقة الأرامل” (Widows’ Park)
Egyptian author Azza Rashad for “حائط غاندي” (Gandhi’s Wall)
Iraqi writer Luay Hamza Abbas for “قرب شجرة عالية ” (Near the Tall Tree)
Omani writer Mahmoud al-Rahbi for “لم يكن ضحكاً فحسب” (Not Just for a Laugh)
Palestinian Mahmoud Rimawi for “ضيف على العالم” (Guest of the World)
Egyptian author Wagdi al-Koumi for “شوارع السماء” (Roads in the Sky)
The shortlist is set to be announced at the beginning of November, with the winner announced in December. In addition to the $20,000, there is also a fund to support translation of the winning collection into English, and $5,000 for each of the shortlisted authors.
Stories in translation:
Two Stories by Luay Hamza Abbas, tr. Yasmeen Hanoosh
Luay Hamza Abbas’s Merrymaking, tr. Yasmeen Hanoosh
Mahmoud al-Rimawi’s “The Train,” tr. Wen-Chin Ouyang
Azza Rashad’s “My Mother’s Eyes,” tr. Jenny Steel