UAE: Emirati author in 2022 shortlist for International Prize for Arabic Fiction

The shortlist comprises books by authors from six countries, including Egypt, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Oman, and for the first time, the UAE


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Published: Wed 23 Mar 2022, 12:23 PM

Last updated: Wed 23 Mar 2022, 10:25 PM

The International Prize for Arabic Fiction has announced a shortlist of six novels in contention for the 2022 award; the winner will receive a $50,000 (Dh183,500) cash prize.

The shortlist comprises books by authors from six countries, including Egypt, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Oman, and for the first time, the UAE.

A panel of five judges chose the shortlist from the longlist of 16 novels. It includes Emirati author Reem Alkamali for her book Rose's Diary. This is the first time an Emirati novelist made it to the award's shortlist.

Other novels on the list include Cairo Maquette by Tarek Imam, Dilshad by Bushra Khalfan, The Prisoner of the Portuguese by Mohsine Loukili, The White Line of Night by Khaled Nasrallah and Bread on the Table of Uncle Milad by Mohamed Alnaas.

The shortlisted authors are aged between 34 and 52 and represent six countries.

Each of the six authors will receive a cash prize of $10,000 (Dh36,700), with the winner announced in Abu Dhabi on May 22, receiving an additional $50,000 (Dh183,500).

The shortlist was unveiled 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.

Collectively, the writers address a range of important issues in their books, including identity, access to education, poverty, gender roles, fear, revenge, and freedom of expression.

All the authors on the 2022 list have been shortlisted for the prize for the first time.

Shukri Mabkhout, Chair of the 2022 Judges, said, "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 areas 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."

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