Excerpts to Read While Waiting for International Prize for Arabic Fiction Announcement, Today

The winner of the 2020 International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2020 is set to be announced online later today:

The announcement will be made at noon London and Casablanca time, 1 p.m. in Cairo, 2 p.m. in Baghdad, and 3 p.m. in Abu Dhabi. It’s set to come via a video announcement on YouTube, which will also be on the IPAF website.

Meantime, you can read translated excerpts from each of the shortlisted books online. 

You can also watch the shortlist short films by Khéridine Mabrouk:

The year’s six-book shortlist includes one previous shortlistee (Lebanese novelist Jabbour Douaihy) and a previous winner, Youssef Ziedan, who took the 2009 prize for his novel Azazeelwhich was later translated to English by Humphrey Davies.

The full six-book shortlist is:

The Spartan Court by Abdelouahab Aissaoui:

“Twelve years after Napoleon’s death and three years since the fall of Algeria, those words still resound through my head.”

The Russian Quarter by Khalil Alrez

“The Russian Quarter, the roof terrace overlooking the zoo. On a table not far from where the muzzle of the giraffe was nestling, scenes from a match replay between Spain and Uruguay were flickering across my 14-inch TV.”

The King of India by Jabbour Douaihy

On page 34 of An Eyewitness Account of the Mount Lebanon Crisis, a book about the calamitous events of 1860, published in Alexandria in 1892, it reads:

“People’s intentions have become corrupt, and man’s baser self now thirsts for blood in every corner of the land.The strife found its way to the village of Tel Safra, located fifteen miles east of Beirut and inhabited by Christians and Druze. Fighting broke out between the villagers, and the Christians were not known for their bravery or appetite for battle. Consequently, many were killed in al-‘Abbadiyya and on the road to Zahleh . . .”

Firewood of Sarajevo by Said Khatibi

“In this trembling, apprehensive city, one catastrophe begets another.”

The Tank by Alia Mamdouh

“As in old picture albums, we all thought: We, The undersigned, are the family of Ayyoub Al- who will gradually appear with us here before long, either directly in front of us, or a bit to one side.”

Fardeqan – the Detention of the Great Sheikh by Youssef Ziedan

“Ibn Sina downed his drink in one gulp and toyed with his cup.”

Excerpts from each of the six novels are available online.

Read more on and from the shortlisted authors:

Abdelouahab Aissaoui on Publishing Realities, Challenges, and Dreams in Algeria

Jabbour Douaihy on ‘The King of India’

Said Khatibi on the Entanglements of Story in Bosnia and Algeria

‘Firewood of Sarajevo’: Testimonies against Amnesia and for an Alternative History

New Fiction: An Excerpt from Alia Mamdouh’s IPAF-longlisted ‘The Tank’

The shortlisted authors’ novels already in English translation:

Jabbour Douaihy’s Autumn Equinox ,tr. Nay Hannawi, won the Arkansas Arabic Translation Award.

Douaihy’s June Rain was shortlisted for the inaugural International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) in 2008 and published in English, in Paula Haydar’s translation, in 2014.

Douaihy’s The American Neighborhood, also translated by Haydar, was longlisted for the IPAF in 2015.

Douaihy’s Printed in Beirut was, similarly, translated by Haydar.

Douaihy’s novel The Vagrant, shortlisted for the IPAF 2012, is not in English. However, a translation by Stephanie Dujols won the 2013 ‘Prix de la Jeune Litterature Arabe.’

Said Khatibi’s Forty Years Waiting for Isabelle was translated by “Emisia Creative.”

Youssef Ziedan’s Azazeel was translated by Jonathan Wright.

Alia Mamdouh’s Naphtalene: A Novel of Baghdad was translated by Peter Theroux.

Mamdouh’s Mothballs was also translated by Theroux.

Mamdouh’s The Loved Ones was translated by Marilyn Booth