International Prize for Arabic Fiction Announces 2023 Longlist, Showcasing ‘An Impulse to Record Historic Events’

JANUARY 24, 2023 — Organizers today announced the sixteen-book longlist for the 2023 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), chosen from a total of 124 submissions.

Seven writers on the list have been recognized by the prize in past editions: Ahmad Abdulatif, Najwa Binshatwan, Lina Huyan Alhassan, Aisha Ibrahim, Nasser Iraq, Azher Jirjis, and Miral al-Tahawy. A further nine writers made the IPAF list for the first time. Organizers also remarked on the number of women authors longlisted for this year’s prize — eight — the most women novelists ever to appear on an IPAF longlist.

A prepared statement promised a longlist with “examples of satire and dark, dystopian themes, as well as magical realism and allegory, using folkore and oral traditions to make sense of current social and political issues,” adding that, “Many characters across the 16 titles show an impulse to record historic events, preserve cultural heritage or family stories from times past, and a preoccupation with the act of creation itself.”

The full 2023 longlist:

AuthorTitleCountry of originPublisher
Ahmad AbdulatifThe Ages of Daniel in the City of ThreadsEgypt Dar al-Ain
Fatima AbdulhamidThe Highest Part of the HorizonSaudi ArabiaMasciliana – UAE
Al-Sadiq Haj AhmedDroughtAlgeriaDar Dwaya
Zahran AlqasmiThe Exile of the Water DivinerOmanRashm
Najwa BinshatwanConcerto Qurina EduardoLibyaTakween – Iraq
Lina Huyan ElhassanRuler of the Two FortressesSyriaDar al-Adab
Ahmed El-FakharanyBar LialinaEgyptDar al-Shorouk
Mohammed HarradiThe Melody of the RabbitMoroccoAl-Mutawassit
Sausan Jamil HasanMy Name is ZayzafouneSyriaAl-Rabie Publications
Aisha IbrahimThe Box of SandLibyaAl-Mutawassit
Nasser IraqThe AntikkhanaEgyptDar al-Shorouk
Azhar JerjisThe Stone of HappinessIraqDar Al-Rafidain – Lebanon
Rabia RaihaneThe Family HouseMoroccoDar al-Ain
Miral al-Tahawy Days of the Shining SunEgyptDar al-Ain
Qassem TawfikOne Night is EnoughJordanAlaan
May TelmissanyThey All Say I Love YouEgyptDar al-Shorouk

Mohammed Achaari was named as the chair of the 2023 panel of judges. He said of the longlist:

 Several themes dominate the texts, including exile, childhood, the family, freedoms, and the relationships between regime and society. A number of longlisted novels deal with cultural heritage and legends, drawing on ancient sources to create worlds which express something of our real or imagined lives. Common themes aside, the authors’ writing styles are incredibly varied, ranging from journalistic research to a prevalence of folk tales and colloquialisms, some leaning towards the satirical and others deeply reflective and poetic in tone.

Achaari was joined by four other judges: Egyptian novelist Reem Bassiouney, Algerian novelist Fadhila El Farouk, Swedish translator Tetz Rooke, and Omani writer Aziza al-Ta’l.

For his part, Chair of the Board of Trustees Yasir Suleiman remarked on the increased participation of women novelists, and also, “the pleasing appearance of diaspora writers, enhancing a trend that has gathered pace over the years.”

The six shortlisted titles are set to be announced on March 1, 2023, at an event at the National Library of Kuwait.