International Prize for Arabic Fiction: 2020 Longlist Includes 4 from Algeria, Well-Known Writers

Books from nine countries — including six by those on previous International Prize for Arabic Fiction lists and 10 newcomers — have been longlisted for the 2020 prize:

This morning, International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) organizers revealed both the 16-book longlist for the 2020 prize and the five-judge panel, which is being chaired by Iraqi critic Muhsin al-Musawi.

Those chosen for preivous IPAF lists are: Rasha Adly (longlisted in 2017), Magbool Al-Alawi (longlisted in 2011); Jabbour Douaihy (twice shortlisted and once longlisted); Samir Kacimi (longlisted in 2010); Khaled Khalifa (twice shortlisted); Bachir Mefti (shortlisted in 2012), and Youssef Ziedan (winner of the 2009 prize).

The list also includes novels by acclaimed authors Alia Mamdouh and Salim Barakat, both on the list for the first time.

The full longlist:

Author Title Country of origin Publisher
Rasha Adly The Last Days of the Pasha Egypt Arab Scientific Publishers
Abdelouahab Aissaoui The Spartan Court Algeria Dar Min
Magbool Al-Alawi Seferberlik Saudi Arabia Dar Al Saqi
Khalil Alrez The Russian Quarter Syria Difaf Publishing
Hassan Aourid Al-Mutanabbi’s Rabat Morocco Al-Markez al-Thaqafi al-Arabi
Salim Barakat What About Rachel, the Jewish Lady? Syria Arabic Institute for Research and Publishing
Jabbour Douaihy The King of India Lebanon Dar Al Saqi
Mohammed Eissa al-Mu’adab / Mohammed Eissa Mouaddeb Hammam Dhahab Tunisia Mesaa
Aisha Ibrahim The War of the Gazelle Libya Tripoli Scientific Bookshop
Azhar Jerjis Sleeping in the Cherry Field Iraq Dar al-Rafidain
Samir Kacimi The Stairs of Trolar Algeria Editions Barzakh
Khaled Khalifa No One Prayed Over Their Graves Syria Hachette Antoine/Naufal
Said Khatibi Firewood of Sarajevo Algeria Al-Ikhtilef
Alia Mamdouh The Tank Iraq Al-Mutawassit
Bachir Mefti The Mingling of the Seasons Algeria Al-Ikhtilef
Youssef Ziedan Fardeqan – the Detention of the Great Sheikh Egypt Dar al-Shorouk

The novels selected by the judges were chosen from 128 entries, all published between July 2018 and June 2019.

This year’s panel of judges, chaired by Muhsin al-Musawi, also includes Lebanese critic Pierre Abi Saab, Egyptian journalist Reem Magued, Algerian novelist Amin Zaoui, and Russian academic Viktoria Zarytovskaya.

Al-Musawi said in a prepared statement that the novels on the longlist share a concern “with the crisis of the individual and of humanity as a whole, while strongly inclined to experimentation with the narrative form. The submitted novels were highly competitive in their subject matter and style, so in choosing this longlist the judging panel concentrated on the craftsmanship of the novel, the variety of its approaches and the richness of its stylistic, intellectual and thematic substance.”

In his statement Yasir Suleiman, chair of the Board of Trustees, noted that the longlist was dominated by North African writers, with four books by Algerians, one by a Moroccan writer, one from Tunisia, one from Libya, and two from Egypt. No publisher, this year, had more than two books on the longlist.

The shortlist is set to be announced at a press conference in Morocco on February 4, 2020, with the winner announced April 14, 2020 in Abu Dhabi.