This month Four Colman Getty kicked off the 2018 cycle of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, announcing the longlist and judges.
Chosen from 124 entries from 14 countries, the 16 selected novels range from the forgotten history of Palestinian volunteers during the Spanish Civil war; a bond forged between two young girls in a Baghdad bomb shelter; to the story of a grandfather, father, and son during the Algerian revolution. Chair of Judges, Ibrahim Al Saafin, commented on the ‘thematically and stylistically varied’ longlist, which brought ‘to life the tragic distortions and dreams of [Arab] societies, delving deep into the past to throw light on current issues.’
The list comprises well-known figures in the Arabic literary world while also including more experimental writing from lesser-known voices; three authors have been shortlisted previously – Atef Abu Saif, Amir Tag Elsir and Ibrahim Nasrallah – and a further five previously longlisted – Fadi Azzam, Antoine Douaihy, Hamed al-Nazir, Taleb al-Refai and Amin Zaoui. The two youngest authors on the list, Saudi Arabian author Aziz Mohammed and Iraqi Shahad Al Rawi, are longlisted with their debut novels. Shahad Al Rawi’s Baghdad Clock has already been translated into English and is due to be published in the UK by Oneworld Publications this year.
We worked in partnership with the team at Four Gulf to simultaneously release the information in English and Arabic. The announcement was covered extensively, with well over 100 pieces of Arabic coverage, including Al Jazeera, Sky News Arabia and an interview with the chair of Judges on BBC Arabic; it was also picked up by book trade media in the UK and US with stories in The Bookseller, Bookbrunch and Publishing Perspectives.
The shortlist will be announced next month, with the winner revealed at an awards ceremony held at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday 24 April, 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.