Friday Finds: Excerpts from 6 IPAF-shortlisted Novels

International Prize for Arabic Fiction organizers have published the 2018 “book of excerpts” in English and in Arabic:

The book features short excerpts from all six of the novels, with an introduction written by the chair of judges, Ibrahim al-Saafin.

The excerpts are, for the most part, a bit rushed, but here they are:

There are two excerpts of Amir Tag Elsir’s Flames of Flowers, translated by Raphael Cohen. From the excerpt:

“I smelled the flowers in that bunch with a passion. I smelled them flower by flower, jasmine, carnations, and Damask roses. Again and again I smelled them as though in search of the distinctive sweat of the person who had sent them that might have lingered.”

There is one excerpt of Aziz Mohammed’s The Critical Case of ‘K,’ from the book’s “Week 10,” translated by Paul Starkey. From the excerpt:

“I was calm, the doctor was calm, and the room was calm. The room was at the right temperature and there was steam rising from the paper tea cups in front of us. I put a cup on my knee and leaned over it quietly.”

The excerpt from Ibrahim Nasrallah’s IPAF-winning Dog War II is from “The Night of Killing,” and it was translated by Nancy Roberts. From the excerpt:

“The talk show host began, as usual, sounding agitated and irritable. His neck veins bulging, he started with a bang, firing off questions in rapid succession, and constantly adjusting his spectacles which kept slipping off his nose.”

The excerpt from Shahad al-Rawi’s Baghdad Clock, translated by Luke Leafgren, is will be available in English from OneWorld next month. From the excerpt, which comes near the end of the book:

“The virtual world is not only a means of communication, it is a tool to examine our past and settle our accounts with it.”

The excerpt of Walid Shurafa’s Heir of the Tombstones was translated by Wen-chin Ouyang. The excerpt begins with the “last chapter: fifty years ago I was a boy of four standing between a mother and a grandfather.”

“Forty years later, I would regret sleeping through that day.”

The excerpt of Dima Wannous’s The Frightened Ones was not translated by Elisabeth Jaquette, who will bring out an English version in 2019, but instead by Jonathan Wright.

“I took my death notice with me. I folded it carefully, just as Naseem folded his shirts and sweaters.”