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2016 IPAF Shortlist

Longlist Announced for International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2012

10 November 2011

The longlist of 13 novels in contention for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2012 is announced today, Thursday 10 November 2011. The contenders for the leading literary prize were selected from 101 entries from 15 countries published in the last 12 months.

The longlisted authors come from seven countries, with four authors a piece from Lebanon and Egypt. Syria, Algeria, Iraq, Tunisia and Jordan are each represented by one author. This year a number of the longlisted novels deal with the theme of the Lebanese war, whilst other common themes include displacement – both for expatriate Arabs and those who have lost loved ones in childhood – and the challenge of rediscovering one’s roots and identity.

Youssef Ziedan, who won the Prize in 2009 with Azazel, makes it onto this year’s longlist with The Nabatean. He is joined by three other previously shortlisted authors: Jabbour Douaihy (June Rain, 2008); Habib Selmi (The Scents of Marie-Claire, 2009) and Rabee Jaber (America, 2010). Ezzedine Choukri Fishere was longlisted for the Prize in 2009 for Intensive Care. 

These books were selected by a panel of five specialists in the field of Arabic literature. The judges’ names will be announced in Cairo on Wednesday 7 December 2011, at the same time as the 2012 shortlist. 

The 2012 longlist, with author names in alphabetical order, is as follows:






Fadi Azzam



Paving the Sea 

Rashid al-Daif


Riyad al-Rayyes

The Vagrant 

Jabbour Douaihy


Dar al-Nhar

Embrace on Brooklyn Bridge 

Ezzedine Choukri Fishere


Dar al-Ain

The Druze of Belgrade 

Rabee Jaber


Al-Markez al-Thaqafi al-Arabi

The Unemployed

Nasr Iraq


Al-Dar al-Masriya al-Lubnaniya

Toy of Fire

Bachir Mefti



Under the Copenhagen Sky 

Hawra al-Nadawi


Dar al-Saqi

Suitcases of Memory

Charbel Kattan



Nocturnal Creatures of Sadness

Mohamed al-Refai


Dar Merit

The Women of al-Bassatin 

Habib Selmi


Dar al-Adab

The Amazing Journey of Khair al-Din ibn Zard 

Ibrahim al-Zaarur


Dar Fada'at

The Nabatean

Youssef Ziedan


Dar al-Shorouq

The 2012 Chair of Judges commented on the longlist: “The fifth cycle of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction takes place in exceptional circumstances, with many Arab uprisings against despotic regimes which have been entrenched in most regions of the Arab world for long decades. Without actually asserting that the novels nominated for this prize cycle directly prophesy the Arab Spring, we can say that many of them paint a picture of the stifling conditions prevalent before the explosion of uprisings. They take the reader into the underground world of the secret police and portray the thirst for freedom of many of their heroes and secondary characters, at the same time exposing the opportunism of those who co-operate with those secret forces.”

The Prize, which celebrates its fifth anniversary in 2012, has become a leading cultural event in the Arab world. Lauded as the ‘foremost literary award for writing in Arabic’ (The National) and ‘the yardstick of literary excellence’ (The Times), it is the first of its kind in the Arab world in its commitment to independence, transparency and integrity. Its aim is to celebrate the very best of contemporary Arabic fiction and encourage wider international readership of Arabic literature through translation.

In the past five years the Prize has secured 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 translated into English by Sceptre (an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton) in 2009 and has gone on to be translated into at least eight languages worldwide. Ziedan’s Azazel will be published in the UK by Atlantic Books in April 2012, and Abdo Khal and Mohammed Achaari’s books will also be published in 2012, by the Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing. Raja Alem’s The Doves’ Necklace has recently secured an English language publisher, with The Overlook Press in America and Duckworth Books  in the UK. All of the winning titles, and a significant number of shortlisted and longlisted books have been translated internationally in South America, Europe and Asia.

Jonathan Taylor, Chair of the Board of Trustees, commented: “Five years on, it is hugely gratifying to see how the prize is fulfilling its purpose: to recognise and reward the best of Arabic literature and to encourage translation internationally. We are also delighted to see how the prize has stimulated Arabic fiction writing, as a genre.”

Salwa Mikdadi, Head of Arts & Culture Programme at the Emirates Foundation, adds: “The Prize continues to garner regional and international interest in Arabic literature, as evident in the multiple editions and the translations into over twelve languages. The Foundation is proud to continue its support of the Prize in its fifth year.”

The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is awarded for prose fiction in Arabic and each of the six shortlisted finalists receives $10,000, with a further $50,000 going to the winner.  It was launched in Abu Dhabi, UAE, in April 2007, and is supported by the Booker Prize Foundation and the Emirates Foundation for Philanthropy.

The winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2012 will be announced at an awards ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday 27 March 2012, on the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

For further information about the Prize, please visit or follow the prize on Facebook.


Notes to Editors

  • Key dates for the 2012 Prize are:

Shortlist announcement: Wednesday 7 December 2011

Winner announcement: Tuesday 27 March 2012

  • The first five winners of the Prize are:

2008: Sunset Oasis by Bahaa Taher (Egypt)

2009: Azazel by Youssef Ziedan (Egypt)

2010: Spewing Sparks as Big as Castles by Abdo Khal (Saudi Arabia)

2011: The Arch and the Butterfly by Mohammed Achaari (Morocco) and The Doves' Necklace by Raja Alem (Saudi Arabia)

  • All works submitted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction must be prose fiction in Arabic
  • For a full history of the Prize visit the website: The site features the rules of entry, background information and breaking news and is the quickest way for the Prize’s worldwide audience to access information
  • The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is funded by the Emirates Foundation for Philanthropy, one of the leading philanthropic organisations in the UAE
  • The Prize is also supported by the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair and Etihad Airways
  • An independent Board of Trustees, drawn from across the Arab world and beyond, is responsible for the overall management of the Prize. The Trustees are, in alphabetical order:  Marie-Thérèse Abdel-Messih, Professor of English & Comparative Literature, University of Cairo, Egypt, currently on secondment at Kuwait University; Nouri Abid, Publisher, L'Edition Med Ali, Tunisia; Bachar Chebaro, Publisher, Scientific Arab Publishers, Lebanon; Dr. Peter Clark OBE, Independent Consultant and Writer, Middle East Cultural Advisory Services, UK; Rasheed El-Enany, Professor of Modern Arabic Literature, University of Exeter, and Series Editor of Edinburgh Studies in Modern Arabic Literature, UK; Joumana Haddad, writer, poet, journalist and first IPAF Administrator; Khaled Hroub, Arab academic and director of Cambridge Arab Media Project (CAMP); Assia Moussei, President and Publishing Manager of El Ikhtilef publishing house, translator and journalist, Algeria; Zaki Nusseibeh, Advisor, Ministry of Presidential Affairs – Vice-Chairman, Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage; Margaret Obank, Publisher and Editor, Banipal magazine of Modern Arab Literature, UK; William Sieghart, Chairman & Founder, Forward Publishing, National Poetry Day, UK; Ahdaf Soueif, bestselling author and political and cultural commentator; Yasir Suleiman, Professor of Arabic, University of Cambridge, UK; Evelyn Smith, Company Secretary, Booker Prize Foundation, UK; Jonathan Taylor CBE, Chairman, Booker Prize Foundation, UK. The Prize’s Administrator is Fleur Montanaro
  • In addition to the annual Prize, IPAF supports an annual nadwa (writers’ workshop) for emerging writers from across the Arab world. The inaugural nadwa took place in November 2009 and included eight writers, who had been recommended by IPAF Judges as writers of exceptional promise. The result was eight new pieces of fiction which have been published in English and Arabic by Dar Al Saqi Books in Emerging Arab Voices: Nadwa1, which was launched at Sharjah International Book Fair on 27 October 2010 and in the UK in January 2011. Two further workshops have taken place in Abu Dhabi, in October 2010 and October 2011.  All three nadwas were run under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Ruler's Representative in the Western Region, UAE
  • The Emirates Foundation is one of the UAE’s foremost philanthropic organisations. It offers financial and technical support to projects that enrich the lives of people in the Emirates, particularly in the area of youth development.
  • The Foundation facilitates links between commercial businesses and the public sector to devise new projects and strengthen existing nonprofit initiatives throughout the country.  Its funding comes from programme-rated contributions and a capital reserve supported by the Abu Dhabi government and private companies.
  • Launched on April 12, 2005 by H.H Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, its Board of Directors is chaired by Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs 
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