Shortlist announced for International Prize for Arabic Fiction


11am GMT / 3pm GST, Tuesday 22 March 2022: Cairo Maquette by Tarek Imam, Rose’s Diary by Reem al-Kamali, Dilshad by Bushra Khalfan, The Prisoner of the Portuguese by Mohsine Loukili, The White Line of Night by Khaled Alnasrallah and Bread on Uncle Milad's Table by Mohamed Alnaas have today been announced as the shortlisted works for the 15th International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF). Each of the six shortlisted authors will receive $10,000, with the winner announced on 22 May receiving an additional $50,000.

The shortlist was revealed online by this year’s Chair of Judges Shukri Mabkhout alongside Fleur Montanaro, the prize’s Administrator. They were then joined in a live press conference by Yasir Suleiman, Chair of Trustees.

The shortlisted authors for IPAF’s 15th edition range in age from 34 to 52 and represent six countries. Collectively, the writers address a range of important issues including identity, access to education, poverty, gender roles, fear, revenge and freedom of expression.

The shortlist was chosen by a panel of five judges chaired by Tunisian novelist, academic and previous IPAF winner (The Italian, 2015) Shukri Mabkhout. Joining him on the judging panel are Libyan doctor, poet and translator Ashur Etwebi, Lebanese writer and PEN International board member Iman Humaydan, Kuwaiti poet and critic Saadiah Mufarreh and Bulgarian academic and translator Baian Rayhanova.

All the authors on the 2022 shortlist have been shortlisted for the prize for the first time. Listed in alphabetical order by author surname, they are as follows:



Country of origin


Tarek Imam

Cairo Maquette



Reem al-Kamali

Rose's Diary


Dar al-Adab

Bushra Khalfan



Takween - Iraq

Mohsine Loukili

The Prisoner of the Portuguese


Dar Mim

Khalid Al-Nassrallah           

The White Line of Night


Dar Al Saqi

Mohamed Alnaas

Bread on Uncle Milad's Table




Shukri Mabkhout, Chair of the 2022 Judges, commented in his speech: “The six novels represent a strikingly diverse range of topics and forms around identity and freedom. Some of them took us on a journey to the past, inspired by the aspirations and struggles of people living in various regions across the Arab world. They depicted the endeavours of marginalized, oppressed or forgotten individuals throughout history, as they sought to forge and change their destinies. Other novelists on this shortlist portrayed freedom from various angles, such as the freedom of imagination to reconstruct a reality in which fantasy and truth intertwine, the freedom of expression and creativity in the face of visible or hidden oppression, and the freedom of individual identity.”

Professor Yasir Suleiman, Chair of the Board of Trustees, said: “This is a daring shortlist of works by writers who have come to the novel from different walks of life, cutting their teeth in various arenas of literary production before delving into extended fiction writing. Decorated by different literary patrons in the Arab world, our shortlistees have dared to probe topics that are frowned upon, adding more credence to the claim that the novel, in the Arab context, is a surrogate form of political and social expression. It would, however, be unfair to ignore the literary merits that captivate the reader in these novels, including the intertwining of multi-voiced narratives and the reimagining of time to express seamless continuity through fracture.”

The winner of the 15th International Prize for Arabic Fiction will be announced on 22 May 2022 at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi that will also be streamed online.