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Six writers shortlisted for int’l prize for Arabic fiction 2018

By JT - Feb 21,2018 - Last updated at Feb 21,2018

AMMAN — Six authors on Wednesday were announced as shortlisted for the 11th International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) during a press conference held at the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation in Amman, a statement by the prize organisers said.

Amir Tag Elsir, Aziz Mohammed, Ibrahim Nasrallah, Shahad Al Rawi, Walid Shurafa and Dima Wannous were selected by the 2018 chair of judges, Jordanian Ibrahim Al Saafin.

 Two debut novelists, Saudi Aziz Mohammed and Iraqi Shahad Al Rawi, who are the youngest authors in the list, made this year’s shortlist. 

They are competing with two previously shortlisted authors: Palestinian/Jordanian Ibrahim Nasrallah (2009, Time of White Horses) and Sudanese Amir Tag Elsir (2011, The Grub Hunter) who have also both served as mentors on the Prize’s Nadwa —an annual writing workshop for talented, emerging writers, according to the statement. 

Palestinian Walid Shurafa and Syrian Dima Wannous, who were recognised by the prize for the first time, were also shortlisted.

Commenting on the selection, Al Saafin, a Jordanian academic, critic, poet, novelist and playwright, said: “The six novels on the shortlist delighted the judges with their fresh exploration of social, political and existentialist themes. Narrative techniques were varied, from the form of diary entries and a novel within a novel, to several authors taking inspiration from the fantasy genre. They allude to the challenging new realities of the Arab world, from Syria to Sudan, but transcend the factual and prosaic.”

This year’s six novels, selected from a list of 16, were published between July 2016 and June 2017 and tackle a variety of topics across the Arab world, the statement said.

Finally, The Second War of the Dog is set in a dystopian future and charts the transformation and corruption of a society driven by greed. 

Yasir Suleiman, chair of IPAF trustees, was quoted in the statement as saying that the “Arabic novel continues to reflect, and reflect upon, its social and political milieu using the cataclysmic events of the present as its substance or backdrop. This is true of most of the novels in the shortlist for this year. Weaving their own tapestries in ruptures of different sorts, these novels root themselves in the trials and tribulations of the human ‘soul’ as it contends with its own destiny”.

 The winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2018 will be announced at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi on April 24, the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. The six shortlisted finalists will receive $10,000, with a further $50,000 going to the winner. 

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