Wednesday, January 18, 2012

ipaf administrator fleur montanaro interviewed on nile international TV

This video shows Fleur Montanaro, Administrator of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF, often known as the Arabic Booker Prize) being interviewed about the prize on Nile International TV's Breakfast Show. Montanaro was in Cairo for the 11 January announcement of the six novels shortlisted for IPAF 2012.

The six titles in contention are:

The Vagrant by Jabbour Douaihy
(Lebanon, Dar an-Nahar)

Embrace on Brooklyn Bridge by Ezzedine Choukri Fishere
(Egypt, Dar al-Ain)

The Druze of Belgrade by Rabee Jaber
(Lebanon, al-Markaz al-Thaqafi al-Arabi)

The Unemployed by Nasser Iraq
(Egypt, al-Dar al-Misriya al-Lubnaniya)
Toy of Fire by Bashir Mufti
(Algeria, al-Ikhtilaf)

The Women of al-Basatin by Habib Selmi
(Tunisia, Dar al-Adab)

The IPAF judges
As always with IPAF, the identity of the judges was revealed only at the same time the shortlist was announced. Chair of the judges is Syrian writer and critic Georges Tarabichi; his fellow judges are Lebanese journalist and literary critic, Maudie Bitar; Egyptian academic and women's rights activist Professor Hoda Elsadda; Qatari writer and academic Dr Huda al-Naimi and Spanish academic, translator and researcher Dr Gonzalo Fernández Parrilla.


The Vagrant provides a realistic, engaging portrayal of the Lebanese civil war through the eyes of a young man who finds himself uprooted by the conflict. The hero represents the crisis of the Lebanese individual imposed upon by a sectarian reality. We follow his struggle to belong as he faces unfamiliar situations and conflicts in a society that considers him an outsider.
Jabbour Douaihy was born in Zgharta, northern Lebanon, in 1949. He holds a PhD degree in Comparative Literature from the Sorbonne and works as Professor of French Literature at the University of Lebanon. To date, he has published seven works of fiction, including novels, short stories and children’s books. His novel June Rain was shortlisted for the inaugural IPAF in 2008, and will be published in English by Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing in October 2012.

Embrace on Brooklyn Bridge is a novel about alienation in its various forms and senses: the hero who doesn’t belong; his second wife, torn between professional ambition and a desperation to give her husband the impression she belongs in his world; his son, with whom he has limited communication; his granddaughter, uncertain where she belongs, and his Egyptian friend, who discovers that neither his children nor his Cuban-American-Lebanese wife belong to his world. All these characters are linked by their relationship with the protagonist, who draws them together by inviting them to his granddaughter’s birthday party, at which he intends to convey some sad news.
Ezzedine Choukri Fishere is an Egyptian writer and diplomat. Born in Kuwait in 1966, he grew up in Egypt, where he graduated from Cairo University in 1987 with a BA in Political Science. After graduating, he attended a number of universities in France and Canada and attained an International Diploma in Administration from The National School of Administration, Paris (1990-92). He went on to gain a Masters in International Relations from Ottawa University (1992-95) and a doctorate in Political Science from Montreal University (1993-98). He currently teaches political science at the American University in Cairo, but also lectures at a number of other universities. In addition, he writes political articles for several Arabic, English and French periodicals and newspapers.

The Druze of Belgrade After the 1860 civil war in Mount Lebanon, a number of fighters from the religious Druze community are forced into exile, travelling by sea to the fortress of Belgrade on the boundary of the Ottoman Empire. In exchange for the freedom of a fellow fighter, they take with them a Christian man from Beirut called Hana Yaaqub; an unfortunate egg seller who happens to be sitting at the port. The Druze of Belgrade follows their adventures in the Balkans, as they struggle to stay alive.
Rabee Jaber, a Lebanese novelist and journalist, was born in Beirut in 1972. He has been editor of Afaq, the weekly cultural supplement of Al-Hayat newspaper, since 2001. His first novel, Master of Darkness, won the Critics’ Choice Prize in 1992. He has since written 16 novels, including: Black Tea; The Last House; Yousif Al-Inglizi; The Journey of the Granadan (published in German in 2005), Berytus: A City Beneath the Earth (published in French by Gallimard in 2009) and America, which was shortlisted for IPAF in 2010.

The Unemployed tells the story of a young, educated Egyptian man from a middle-class family who, like so many others, is forced to look for work in Dubai due to the lack of opportunity in Cairo. In Dubai, he discovers an astonishing world filled with people of all nationalities and he experiences mixed treatment from his friends, relations and acquaintances. And then, just as he falls in love with an Egyptian girl, he finds himself imprisoned for the murder of a Russian prostitute…
Nasser Iraq graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Cairo University, in 1984. He has worked in cultural journalism in Egypt and co-founded the Dubai Al-Thaqafiya magazine where he has been managing editor since 2004. He has published a number of books, including: A History of Journalistic Art in Egypt (2002), which won the Ahmad Bahaa al-Din Prize in its first year; Times of the Dust (2006); From the Excess of Love (2008); The Green and the Damaged (2009) and The Unemployed (2011). He currently works as Cultural and Media Co-ordinator for the Foundation of Culture and Science Symposium in Dubai.

Toy of Fire is the story of a meeting between the novelist, Bashir Mufti, and a mysterious character called Rada Shawish, who presents Mufti with a manuscript containing his autobiography. Shawish’s goal in life has always been not to turn out like his father, who ran an underground cell in the seventies and committed suicide in the eighties. However, circumstances have driven him to follow in his father’s footsteps, resulting in him becoming a leading member of a secret group of his own.
Bashir Mufti is a writer and journalist, born in 1969 in Algiers, Algeria. He has published a number of short story collections and novels, including: Archipelago of Flies (2000); Witness of the Darkness (2002); Perfumes of the Mirage (2005); Trees of the Resurrection (2007) and Maps of Nightly Passion (2009). Some of his works have been translated into French. He often writes articles in the Arabic press and works in Algerian television as assistant producer of the cultural programme Maqamat.

The Women of Al-Basatin is an intimate portrayal of the daily lives of a modest family living in the Al-Basatin district of Tunis in Tunisia. Through the stories of this small matriarchal environment, we observe the contradictions of the wider Tunisian society, exposing a world in flux between burdensome religious traditions and a troubled modernity.
Habib Selmi was born in al-’Ala, Tunisia, in 1951. He has published four novels and two collections of short stories. A number of his stories have been translated into English, Norwegian, Hebrew and French. His first novel, Jabal al-’Anz (Goat Mountain), was published in French in 1999. His novel Ushaq Bayya (Bayya's Lovers) was published in French in 2003 and excerpted in Banipal 18. Other novels include Surat Badawi Mayyit (Picture of a Dead Bedouin, 1990); Matahat al-Raml (Sand Labyrinth, 1994); Hufar Dafi’a (Warm Pits, 1999); Ushashaqq Baya (Bayya’s Lovers, 2001) and Asrar ‘Abdallah (Abdallah’s Secrets, 2004). Selmi has lived in Paris since 1985. His novel The Scents of Marie-Claire was shortlisted for IPAF in 2009. An English translation of the book was published by Arabia Books this year.

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