Thursday, December 06, 2012

IPAF longlist: a hat trick for Rabee Jaber, and a first for Kuwait

Today saw the release of the 16-novel longlist  of the  International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) 2013, worth a total of $60,000 to the winner including the $10,000 that will go to each of six shortlisted finalists.  The IPAF 2012 winner, Lebanese writer Rabee Jaber, is longlisted for a third time, for The Birds of Holiday Inn (the English translation of an excerpt is posted on the Banipal website), while Kuwait features for the first time with The Bamboo Stick by Saud Alsanousi.

 Rabee Jaber

Jaber won IPAF 2012 for The Druze of Belgrade. He was shortlisted for IPAFwith America in 2010. In terms of nationality of authors, Lebanon tops the longlist with four authors (including for the first time the long-established and acclaimed Elias Khoury and Hoda Barakat) followed by Egypt with three.

As always in the IPAF judging process, the identity of the panel of five judges is being kept secret until the announcement of the six-novel shortlist, which will take place in Tunis on 9 January. The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony in Abu Dhabi on 23 April, on the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. The prize is funded by the TCA, Abu Dhabi, and is run with the support of the Booker Prize Foundation in London (IPAF is often known as the Arabic Booker Prize).

The chair of the judges said the members of the judging panel "did not find it difficult to come to a decision about the longlist. They were delighted to discover new literary talents, many of whom have not had wide exposure until now."

The Chair added: "Needless to say, the Judging Panel did not allow themselves to be influenced by the fame of the writer, or his or her political persuasion or nationality. Rather, the panel’s interest was focused on the talent displayed in the novel, the writer’s ability to express his or her thoughts, and with what each novel can offer – both to Arab society and to the reader, wherever he or she may be."

The IPAF 2013 contenders were selected from 133 entries from 15 countries, published in the last 12 months. The longlisted authors are from nine countries: 4 from Lebanon; 3 from Egypt; 2 from Iraq; 2 from Palestine; 2 from Algeria and one from each of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Algeria, Tunisia, and Jordan (counting Ibrahim Nasrallah as both Palestinian and Jordanian).

Previously shortlisted authors on the longlist include Algerian Waciny Laredj (shortlisted for The Andalucian House, in 2011) and Palestinian-Jordanian Ibrahim Nasrallah (shortlisted in 2009 for Time of the White Horses). Iraqi Muhsin al-Ramly was longlisted in 2010 for Fingers Pass.

Twelve of the 16 writers have never previously been longlisted or shortlisted, although IPAF points out that Saudi Mohammed Hassan Alwan took part in IPAF’s inaugural writer’s workshop - nadwa - in 2009  and that it was during this nadwa that Alwan began writing his longlisted novel The Beaver: an extract can be read here. (The output from the nadwa was published in the anthology Emerging Arab Voices).

The statement announcing the longlist pointed out that unlike some previous longlists the 2013 longlist moves away from historical settings, with the majority focusing on contemporary issues from the last 25 years. The issues explored in the longlisted novels include the impact of 9/11 on Arabs living in Europe; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and political and sexual freedom and emancipation. The Arab Spring featured heavily across this year’s submissions in general, but the judges noted that "the subject still needs some time to mature".

The 2013 longlist:

Oh Mary (Al-Jamal)
by Sinan Antoon (Iraq)
Sinan Antoon

Toya (Al-Dar al-Masriya al-Lubnaniya)
by Ashraf El Ashmawi (Egypt)

The Kingdom of this Earth (Dar al-Adab)
by Hoda Barakat ( Lebanon)
 Hoda Barakat (from Banipal website)

I, She and Other Women  (Arab Scientific Publishers)
by Jana Elhassan (Lebanon)

Jana Elhassan

Jaffa Prepares Morning Coffee (The Arabic Insitute for Research and Publishing)
by Anwar Hamed (Palestine)

The Beaver ( Dar al-Saq)
by Mohammed Hassan Alwan (Saudi Arabia)

Mohammed Hassan Alwan

Our Master (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing - BQFP)
by Ibrahim Issa (Egypt)

The Birds of the Holiday Inn  ( Dar al-Tanwir)
by Rabee Jaber (Lebanon)

Sinalkul (Dar al-Adab)
by Elias Khoury (Lebanon)

Lolita’s Fingers (Dar al-Ada)
by Waciny Laredj (Algeria)

The Return of the Sheikh  (Rawafid)
by Mohammed Abdel Nabi (Egypt)

Lanterns of the King of Galilee (Arab Scientific Publishers)
by Ibrahim Nasrallah (Palestine-Jordan)

Ibrahim Nasrallah

The President’s Gardens (Thaqafa) 
by Muhsin al-Ramly (Iraq)

The Bamboo Stick (Arab Scientific Publishers)
by Saud Alsanousi (Kuwait)

His Excellency the Minister  (Dar al-Janu)
by Hussein Al-Wad (Tunisia)

The Goatherd  (Al-Ikhtilef )
by Amin Zaoui (Algeria)

IPAF, considered the leading prize for Arabic novels, is in its sixth year. The organisers not there was a notable increase in submissions this year from authors and publishers from Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia and Syria.

Twenty Iraqi authors entered, a big increase from last year's eight, and while there were no Libyan entrants for IPAF 2012 there were five for IPAF 2013 even if none made it to the longlist.  In a change to the the entry rules this year, publishers were able to submit any new title by an author who had previously been shortlisted for the Prize, in addition to three other novels submitted by that publisher. The aim of this change in rule is to widen the IPAF opportunities for emerging writers.

The chair of the IPAF Board of Trustees Jonathan Taylor, Chair of the Board of Trustees, commented: "The IPAF Judges have chosen another outstanding longlist. It is chosen without regard to nationality, religion, gender, age or politics. The Judges’ only objective is to identify Arabic literary fiction of the very highest quality."

In accordance with its stated aim of inreasing the  international reach of Arabic fiction, IPAF  has guaranteed English translations for all of its winners: Bahaa Taher (2008), Youssef Ziedan (2009), Abdo Khal (2010) and joint winners Mohammed Achaari and Raja Alem (2011).

Taher’s Sunset Oasis was published in English by Sceptre (an imprint of Hodder and Stoughton) in 2009 and has gone on to be translated into at least eight languages worldwide. Ziedan’s Azazel was published in the UK by Atlantic Books in April 2012 and English translations of Abdo Khal and Mohammed Achaari’s winning novels are imminent, through Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing (BQFP).

Susannah Tarbush

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