International Prize for Arabic Fiction announces 2023 longlist and judges


Today, Tuesday 24 January 2022, the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) has revealed the longlist of 16 novels in contention for the 2023 prize, which will award $50,000 to the ultimate winner.

Collectively the longlisted authors span the age range of 40 to 77 and hail from nine countries. The novels cover an extensive range of topics, including migration, exile and the refugee experience, and both fleeting and profound human relationships. Explorations of childhood are prevalent, with coming-of-age narratives revealing the ramifications of political unrest and conflict on the family and country from a child’s perspective. There are examples of satire and dark, dystopian themes, as well as magical realism and allegory, using folklore and oral traditions to make sense of current social or political issues. Many characters across the 16 titles show an impulse to record historic events, preserve cultural heritage or family stories from times past, and a preoccupation with the act of creation itself. The archive is a recurring trope, symbolising state surveillance and control of citizens' lives, and there are multiple examples of carefully constructed tension between the boundaries of fiction, history and biography.

The longlist has been chosen from a total of 124 submissions by a panel of five judges chaired by Moroccan writer and novelist, Mohammed Achaari. Joining him on the judging panel are Egyptian academic and novelist Reem Bassiouney, Algerian novelist, researcher and journalist Fadhila El Farouk, Swedish university professor and translator Tetz Rooke, and Omani writer and academic Aziza al-Ta’I.

Authors on the 2023 longlist who have been previously recognised by the International Prize for Arabic Fiction are: Ahmad Abdulatif (longlisted in 2018 for The Earthen Fortress); Najwa Binshatwan (shortlisted in 2017 for The Slave Yards); Lina Huyan Elhassan (shortlisted in 2015 for Diamonds and Women) who is also a former Nadwa participant; Aisha Ibrahim (longlisted in 2020 for The War of the Gazelle); Nasser Iraq (shortlisted in 2012 for The Unemployed); Azher Jerjis (longlisted in 2020 for Sleeping in the Cherry Field); and Miral al-Tahawy (shortlisted in 2011 for Brooklyn Heights).

Nine further authors are recognised by the prize for the first time: Fatima Abdulhamid, Al-Sadiq Haj Ahmed, Zahran Alqasmi, Ahmed El-Fakharany, Mohammed Harradi, Sausan Jamil Hasan, Rabia Raihane, Qassem Tawfik, and May Telmissany.

The full 2023 longlist, listed in alphabetical order by author surname, is as follows:



Country of origin


Ahmad Abdulatif

The Ages of Daniel in the City of Threads



Dar al-Ain

Fatima Abdulhamid

The Highest Part of the Horizon

Saudi Arabia

Masciliana - UAE

Al-Sadiq Haj Ahmed



Dar Dwaya

Zahran Alqasmi

The Water Diviner



Najwa Binshatwan

Concerto Qurina Eduardo


Takween - Iraq

Lina Huyan Elhassan

Ruler of the Two Fortresses


Dar al-Adab

Ahmed El-Fakharany

Bar Lialina


Dar al-Shorouk

Mohammed Harradi

The Melody of the Rabbit



Sausan Jamil Hasan

My Name is Zayzafoune


Al-Rabie Publications

Aisha Ibrahim

The Box of Sand



Nasser Iraq

The Antikkhana


Dar al-Shorouk

Azhar Jerjis

The Stone of Happiness


Dar Al-Rafidain - Lebanon

Rabia Raihane

The Family House


Dar al-Ain

Miral al-Tahawy 

Days of the Shining Sun


Dar al-Ain

Qassem Tawfik

One Night is Enough



May Telmissany

They All Say I Love You


Dar al-Shorouk



The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is an annual literary prize for novels in Arabic. It is sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, part of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, and was originally mentored by the Booker Prize Foundation in London.

Mohammed Achaari, Chair of the 2023 judges, said:

The novels on this year’s longlist are marked by the large number of female Arab writers and a striking diversity in both subject matter and narrative style. Whilst a preoccupation with current, newsworthy issues of the Arab world – in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Lebanon, Egypt and other countries – permeates a significant number of the books, others turn to the roots of these events in history, the state, society and culture. Several themes dominate the texts, including exile, childhood, the family, freedoms, and the relationships between regime and society. A number of longlisted novels deal with cultural heritage and legends, drawing on ancient sources to create worlds which express something of our real or imagined lives. Common themes aside, the authors’ writing styles are incredibly varied, ranging from journalistic research to a prevalence of folk tales and colloquialisms, some leaning towards the satirical and others deeply reflective and poetic in tone.

Professor Yasir Suleiman, Chair of the Board of Trustees, said:

The longlisted novels this year delve into aspects of the enduring themes of fracture and displacement we have witnessed in past submissions to the Prize, as well as the devastating effect of conflict on the fabric of Arab societies. The search for an understanding of the present by mining the past to engage or visit these themes proves to be elusive, thus compounding the feelings of bewilderment, confusion and in some cases loss. However, the 2023 longlist stands out for the spectacular participation of women novelists and the pleasing appearance of diaspora writers, enhancing a trend that has gathered pace over the years.