Shortlist announced for the 2024 International Prize for Arabic Fiction


Bahbel: Makkah Multiverse 1945-2009 by Raja Alem, Suleima's Ring by Rima Bali, The Seventh Heaven of Jerusalem by Osama Al-Eissa, A Mask, the Colour of the Sky by Basim Khandaqji, Gambling on the Honour of Lady Mitsy by Ahmed Al-Morsi, and The Mosaicist by Eissa Nasiri have today been announced as the shortlisted works for the 17th International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF).

The shortlist was revealed at a press conference in Riyadh by this year’s Chair of Judges, Syrian writer Nabil Suleiman. Also participating were fellow judges – Palestinian writer, researcher and academic Sonia Nimr, Czech academic František Ondráš, Egyptian critic and journalist Mohamed Shoair, and Sudanese writer and journalist Hammour Ziada – as well as IPAF’s Chair of Trustees Yasir Suleiman, and Prize Administrator Fleur Montanaro.

The shortlisted novelists – two women and four men - range in age from 31 to 60, and represent five countries. The authors, each with distinctive narrative styles, collectively explore a remarkably varied range of vital and timely themes.

Listed in alphabetical order by surname, they are as follows:



Country of origin


Raja Alem

Bahbel: Makkah Multiverse 1945-2009

Saudi Arabia

Dar Tanweer - Lebanon

Rima Bali

Suleima's Ring


Tanmia Publishing

Osama Al-Eissa

The Seventh Heaven of Jerusalem



Basim Khandaqji

A Mask, the Colour of the Sky


Dar al-Adab

Ahmed Al-Morsi

Gambling on the Honour of Lady Mitsy


Dar Dawen

Eissa Nasiri

The Mosaicist




Nabil Suleiman, Chair of the 2024 judges, said:

The shortlisted novels offer us a profound fictional excavation of history, where the distant and more recent past and future intersect. Various civilisations and artistic forms are interwoven with their narratives. Their subjects include war, the body and family breakdown, questions of identity, oppression, cruelty, as well as individual and collective human longing for freedom and justice. With passion and perception, the novels engage with the wars, exiles and uprisings endured by the Arab world at the current moment. Their rich creative worlds are not limited to their localities but span the globe, highlighting common struggles. Their visions and aesthetic expressions are diverse, tinged with self-awareness and imaginative verve.

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

Giving us a nuanced sense of place in which a varied tapestry of humanity is reflected, the novels of the shortlist for this year dig deep into the past to excavate the present. This results in haunting narratives that weave their stories from fracture, aided by the resurrection of memories of a vanishing past and the pursuit of hope dashed by inevitable oblivion. Through all of this we find ourselves in the Mecca of bygone years, the Old City of Jerusalem of tormented present, and in the city of Aleppo in which the scars of the recent past are indelibly marked on the bodies of its people in their rich demography. And this is the first time in the history of the Prize that a novel from (literally) behind the walls of an Israeli jail reaches out to readers on the other side.

The winner of the 17th International Prize for Arabic Fiction will be announced on Sunday 28 April 2024 at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi that will also be streamed online.

The aim of IPAF is to reward excellence in contemporary Arabic creative writing and to encourage the readership of high-quality Arabic literature internationally through the translation and publication of winning and shortlisted novels in other major languages. Recent winning IPAF novels which have been published or are forthcoming in English include Jalal Barjas’ The Bookseller’s Notebooks (winner 2021, published in December 2022 by Interlink) and Mohammed Alnaas’ Bread on Uncle Milad’s Table (winner 2022, forthcoming in spring 2024 from HarperVia).

The 2024 shortlist event was hosted in collaboration with the Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission