Arabic fiction prize finalists announced

Ismail Sebugwaawo /Abu Dhabi Filed on March 30, 2021 | Last updated on March 30, 2021 at 12.16 am
—File photo

The winner will be announced from the six finalists on May 25

The six finalists for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) 2021, a prestigious literary award for contemporary Arabic fiction, were announced at a virtual event on Monday.

The shortlisted names include: Eye of Hammurabi by Abdulatif Ould Abdullah; Notebooks of the Bookshop Keeper by Jalal Bargas; The Calamity of the Nobility by Amira Ghenim; The Bird Tattoo by Dunya Mikhail; File 42 by Abdelmajid Sebbata; and Longing for the Woman Next Door by Habib Selmi.

Each of the six shortlisted authors will receive Dh36,700, with the winner — who will be announced on May 25 — receiving an additional Dh183,500. The authors who made it to the finals were between the ages of 31 and 70, representing Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia.

Collectively, the writers address important issues facing the contemporary Arab world, including narratives exploring crimes committed against humanity amidst war and conflict, to the importance of one’s homeland, relationships, memory, and identity. The shortlist also highlights the enduring power of literature for both authors and readers.

“The most obvious thing revealed by an in-depth examination of the six shortlisted novels is how the authors move away from the limits of the ego and are resourced by their ancestral roots, mother countries, and shared memory,” said Lebanese poet and author Chawki Bazih, who chaired the panel of five judges that decided the list.

“Their subjects may not be entirely new, since the Arab present is an exact copy of its past. However, what makes these works unique is something other than their subjects. It is their stylistic richness and power to astonish readers, making them catch their breath; their well-constructed, suspenseful plots; their successful deployment of folklore and the collective imagination, and their deft use of language.”


Ismail Sebugwaawo

A professional journalist originating from Kampala, Uganda, Ismail is a happy father with strong attachment to family and great values for humanity. He has practiced journalism in UAE for the past 13 years, covering the country's parliament (FNC) and crimes, including Abu Dhabi Police, public prosecution and courts. He also reports about important issues in education, public health and the environment, with a keen interest in human interest stories. When out of reporting duties, he serves the Ugandan community in Abu Dhabi as he wants to see his countrymen happy. Exercising and reading are part of his free time.

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