12 March 08 | Chad W. Post

Although the official announcement isn’t available at the IPAF website (which is surprising and disappointing), it’s being reported elsewhere that Egyptian novelist Baha Taher has received the first International Prize for Arabic Fiction for the novel Sunset Oasis.

At least there’s a bit of info about the author and book available on the official website. (Really, just a bit of info. I’m not even going to repeat my desire for 5 page samples . . . if they can’t even get the announcement of the winner online, odds are pretty solid that there’s not going to be any excerpts.):

Bahaa Taher was born in Giza (Greater Cairo) in 1935, to Upper Egyptian parents from the village of Karnak, Luxor. He holds postgraduate diplomas in History and Mass Media from Cairo University. He has published 14 books (6 novels, 4 short story collections, and 4 non-fiction works), as well as numerous translations from English and French.

Sunset Oasis (Publisher: Al Shorooq, Cairo, 2007)

Baha Taher delivers in this book a high quality fiction work, at both the aesthetic and value levels. And depending on the metaphor of the journey that crystallizes the existential crisis of a defeated man, he deals with many broad human questions.

All of the authors on the shortlist received $10,000 and Taher receives an additional $50,000 as the prize winner.

I think it would be fantastic if something like this led to greater exposure for Arabic literature, and, as can be seen from this quote in Lebanon’s Daily Star, the people involved have big hopes for the award:

“We are certain that this new prize will soon achieve the reputation and success of the Booker Prize itself,” remarked Jonathan Taylor, chair of the IPAF board of trustees and chair the Booker Prize Foundation. “We shall hope to carry the influence of new Arabic literature all over the world, in Arabic as well as in translation.”


Comments are disabled for this article.
....
The Indian
The Indian by Jón Gnarr
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

The opening of Jón Gnarr’s novel/memoir The Indian is a playful bit of extravagant ego, telling the traditional story of creation, where the “Let there be light!” moment is also the moment of his birth on January 2nd, 1967. Then. . .

Read More >

Mother of 1084; Old Women; Breast Stories
Mother of 1084; Old Women; Breast Stories by Mahasweta Devi
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

Mahasweta Devi is not only one of the most prolific Bengali authors, but she’s also an important activist. In fact, for Devi, the two seem to go together. As you can probably tell from the titles, she writes about women. . .

Read More >

Tristana
Tristana by Benito Pérez Galdós
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

The prolific Spanish author Benito Pérez Galdós wrote his short novel, Tristana, during the closing years of the nineteenth century, a time when very few options were available to women of limited financial means who did not want a husband.. . .

Read More >

The History of Silence
The History of Silence by Pedro Zarraluki
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Pedro Zarraluki’s The History of Silence (trans. Nick Caistor and Lorenza García) begins with the narrator and his wife, Irene, setting out to write a book about silence, itself called The History of Silence: “This is the story of how. . .

Read More >

Flesh-Coloured Dominoes
Flesh-Coloured Dominoes by Zigmunds Skujiņš
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

There are plenty of reasons you can fail to find the rhythm of a book. Sometimes it’s a matter of discarding initial assumptions or impressions, sometimes of resetting oneself. Zigmunds Skujiņš’s Flesh-Coloured Dominoes was a defining experience in the necessity. . .

Read More >

Iraqi Nights
Iraqi Nights by Dunya Mikhail
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

In a culture that privileges prose, reviewing poetry is fairly pointless. And I’ve long since stopped caring about what the world reads and dropped the crusade to get Americans to read more poems. Part of the fault, as I’ve suggested. . .

Read More >

Three-Light Years
Three-Light Years by Andrea Canobbio
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

I would like to pose the argument that it is rare for one to ever come across a truly passive protagonist in a novel. The protagonist (perhaps) of Three Light-Years, Claudio Viberti, is just that—a shy internist who lives in. . .

Read More >

The Little Horse
The Little Horse by Thorvald Steen
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

The last five days of the eleventh-century Icelandic politician, writer of sagas, and famous murder victim Snorri Sturleleson (the Norwegian spelling, Snorre, is preserved in the book) make up Thorvald Steen’s most recently translated historical fiction, The Little Horse. Murdered. . .

Read More >

Guys Like Me
Guys Like Me by Dominique Fabre
Reviewed by Peter Biello

We all know Paris, or at least we think we know it. The Eiffel Tower. The Latin Quarter. The Champs-Élysées. The touristy stuff. In Dominique Fabre’s novel, Guys Like Me, we’re shown a different side of Paris: a gray, decaying. . .

Read More >

Birth of a Bridge
Birth of a Bridge by Maylis de Kerangal
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

One hundred pages into Birth of a Bridge, the prize-winning novel from French writer Maylis de Kerangal, the narrator describes how starting in November, birds come to nest in the wetlands of the fictional city of Coca, California, for three. . .

Read More >