International Prize for Arabic Fiction Announces 2018 Shortlist

The judges’ chair of the 2018 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) announced the shortlist in Amman, Jordan on Wednesday:

The announcement livestream.

It was a diverse six-novel shortlist from the prize also called the “Arabic Booker,” and the list includes both familiar faces and two debut novelists; futuristic fiction and a historical novel; a popular bestseller; a novel-in-diaries; and a meta-fictional work about fear. There are novels that imagine futures where Daesh-like forces take over, but also satire about ordinary life.

The six novels are:

Sudanese author Amir Tag Elsir’s Flowers in Flames; Saudi novelist Aziz Mohammed’s The Critical Case of “K”; Palestinian-Jordanian novelist Ibrahim Nasrallah’s The Second War of the Dog; Iraqi author Shahad al-Rawi’s Baghdad Clock; Palestinian writer Walid Shurafa’s Heir of the Tombstones; and Syrian writer Dima Wannous’s The Frightened Ones.

English translations of two of the shortlisted books are already forthcoming: Shahad al-Rawi’s The Baghdad Clock is set to appear this summer from OneWorld, in Luke Leafgren’s translation, while Dima Wannous’s The Frightened Ones is forthcoming from Harvill Secker, in Elisabeth Jaquette’s translation, in 2019.

The announcement was made by the 2018 chair of judges, Ibrahim Al Saafin, during a press conference held in Jordan and livestreamed online.

Saafin said that the six novels chosen “delighted the judges with their fresh exploration of social, political and existentialist themes,” and added that, “They allude to the challenging new realities of the Arab world, from Syria to Sudan, but transcend the factual and prosaic.”

More on the IPAF shortlist and reaction will be forthcoming.