TUNIS // Two writers from the Arabian Gulf are among the six authors in the running for this year's International Prize for Arabic Fiction.
The Kuwaiti writer Saud Alsanousi and the Saudi writer Mohammed Hassan Alwan were joined on the shortlist by Iraq's Sinan Antoon, Lebanon's Jana Elhassan, Egypt's Ibrahim Issa, and Hussein Al Wad, a Tunisian.
"The committee is gratified to note that outstanding creativity is common across Arab countries and generations of writers," said Galal Amin, chairman of the judges panel.
The books included Alsanousi's Bamboo Stick, The Beaver by Al Alwan, Ave Maria by Antoon, I, She and Other Women by Elhassan, Our Master by Issa and His Excellency the Minister by Al Wad.
The six shortlisted titles were chosen from a longlist of 16, announced in December. The novels were selected from 133 entries from 15 countries, published in the past 12 months.
The list reveals a number of varied thematic concerns, which lie at the heart of the Arab reality of today. These include, among others: religious extremism; the lack of tolerance and rejection of the Other; the split between thought and behaviour in the contemporary Arab personality; the Arab woman's frustration and her inability to break through the social wall built around her; the laying bare of the corrupt reality and hypocrisy on social, religious, political and sexual levels.
The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is awarded for prose fiction in Arabic and each of the six finalists receives US$10,000 (Dh36,700). An additional $50,000 goes to the winner as well as having the winning title translated into English.
The prize was launched in Abu Dhabi in April 2007, and is supported by the Booker Prize Foundation in London and funded by the TCA Abu Dhabi, who were announced as the new sponsor of the Prize in September last year.
This year's winner will be announced on April 23, on the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. All five previous winners of the prize have secured English publishing deals for their novels.