29 January 08 | Chad W. Post

The shortlist for the first ever Arabic Fiction Prize has just been announced. This award—officially the International Prize for Arabic Fiction—was launched last year in collaboration with the Booker Prize Foundation to bring more attention to Arabic writing.

Here’s the list:

  • Douaihy Jabbour June rain (Lebanese)
  • Farkouh Elias The land of Purgatory (Jordanian)
  • Khalifa Khaled In praise of hate (Syrian)
  • Menassa May Walking in the dust (Lebanese)
  • Said Mekkaou Swan song (Egyptian)
  • Taher Baha Sunset oasis (Egyptian)

As stated on their website, “The winner of the Booker Prize is generally assured of international renown and success. It is also a mark of distinction for authors to be nominated for the Booker longlist or selected for inclusion in the shortlist.”

All of which is true—although moreso for the British Booker than the Russian or African ones, unfortunately—which hopefully means that at least some of these books will end up being translated and published in English.

As with any prize of this nature, I really wish they had samples available on their website . . . It’s not like they picked the six books this morning. And beyond being on this list, a sample would go a long way in getting a UK/U.S. press interested in these books.

Each of the writers on the shortlist receives $10,000, and the final winner will receive an additional $50,000. The winner will be announced on March 10th in Abu Dhabi.


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