124 Novels in the Running for 2018 International Prize for Arabic Fiction

There are 124 total submissions for the 2018 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, according to IPAF administrator Fleur Montanaro, steeply down from previous years:

The sharp decrease is due to a strict new quota system for publishers, aimed at reducing the number of books. Publishers had complained that large houses, which put out dozens of titles, got the same number of slots as fly-by-night publishers, some of which opened up just to submit for the prize.

This is the first year the quota system is in effect, such that the number of books each publisher can submit “will depend on that publisher’s inclusion in longlists over the previous five years[.]”

Publishers who’ve had no previous longlisting can submit one title; one or two longlistings earns you two submissions; three or four longlistings earns you three submissions; five or more longlistings earns you four submissions.

This year, the 124 submissions came from 79 total publishers.

“There were 180 submissions in 2015, 159 in 2016 and 186 in 2017,” Montanaro said over email. “The submission number for 2018 has decreased but that is entirely as anticipated following the rule change to the submission process, announced at the end of 2016.”

Thirty of this year’s submissions — about a quarter — were books by women, which is roughly similar to past years.

There were submissions from 14 different nationalities, the largest groups being Egyptians (34 titles), Syrians (12 titles), and Iraqis (11 titles).

According to Montanaro, there were 33 submissions of novels by authors under 40.

This year’s judges will be announced along with the shortlist, which is typically released in February of the awards year. “Judges generally serve for one prize only,” Montanaro said, “although after a gap of at least 3 years, a judge might be considered for appointment to a subsequent panel as chair. After serving as a chair, that judge would not usually be appointed again to any future judging panel.”

This year’s longlist is set to be announced in January 2018; the date is still being finalized.

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