Free inside Sunday's issue of The National is a unique collection of the best of new Arabic fiction. Excerpts from all six novels for the second annual International Prize for Arabic Fiction have been translated into English for the first time and published in a single volume with the original Arabic text. This year's winner will be announced on March 16 in the capital just before the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.
The prize, which is administered in cooperation with the Emirates Foundation and the Booker Prize Foundation, has awarded US$10,000 (Dh36,732) to each of the shortlisted authors. The winner of this year's IPAF, will receive additional $50,000, with their novel translated into English and published in Britain. The jury received 131 submissions from 15 countries. Sometimes described as the "Arabic Booker", the IPAF was established to give Arabic written works a greater influence in the wider literary world.
Last year's winner was the Egyptian writer Baha Taher for his historical novel Sunset Oasis. The English translation and publication of that novel, about the British occupation in Egypt in the 19th century, is now in progress. This year's finalists include Muhammad al Bisatie, from Egypt, whose novel Hunger is an account of the lives of people who live in perpetual hunger; the Syrian Fawwaz Haddad, whose book, The Unfaithful Translator is about a translator who is accused of betrayal because of his non-conformist views; Inaam Kachachi, from Iraq whose novel depicts the American occupation of Iraq in The American Granddaughter; The Lebanese author Ibrahim Nasrallah's book, Time of White Horses, charts the history of three generations of a Palestinian family; The work of Habib Selmi, from Tunisia, entitled the Scents of Marie-Claire explores the cultural clash between East and West through the relationship between an Arab man and a Western Woman; and Beelzebub by Egyptian novelist Yusuf Ziedan, which is set in Egypt and Syria during the fifth century as the Roman Empire adopted the new religion of Christianity.