x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Arab Booker shortlist announced

The shortlist for The International Prize for Arabic Fiction has been decided with six authors battling it out for the coveted award.

Ez Eldin is the only female author on the Arabic Booker Prize shortlist.
Ez Eldin is the only female author on the Arabic Booker Prize shortlist.

ABU DHABI // The Saudi Arabian novelist Abdo Khal and the Egyptians Muhammad al Mansi Qindeel and Mansoura Ez Eldin are among the six finalists shortlisted for the 2010 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. Each of the nominees, announced at the Beirut International Book Fair, receives US$10,000 (Dh36,000). They were chosen from a list of 16, which was picked out of 115 entries from 17 countries. The winner, who will be announced at an awards ceremony in the capital on March 2, the first day of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, will receive $50,000. The award has been labelled the Arab Booker and honours works of prose fiction in Arabic. Ez Eldin is the only woman on the list. Her book, Beyond Paradise, centres on Salma, the editor of a literary magazine from Egypt's rural middle class, who writes her family history as a way of liberating herself from a painful past. Khal's novel, She Throws Sparks, is a satire on the seductive power of life in the palace. The author, who is editor-in-chief of the Ukaz newspaper in Jeddah, has had his novels translated into English, French and German. Qindeel's A Cloudy Day on the West Side, a thriller in which a mother and daughter are forced to flee an abusive home, is set against the Egypt of the 1920s during a time of great archaeological discoveries. It combines detail and real historical references. The other finalists include the Lebanese novelist Rabee Jabir, whose book America is a tribute to Syrians who left their homeland in the early 20th century in search of a new life in the United States. When the Wolves Grow Old by Jamal Naji, a Jordanian of Palestinian descent, explores human frailty and the interaction between religion, politics and sex in the secret lives of Amman's social climbers. The Palestinian writer Raba'i Madhoun spent his childhood in a refugee camp. His novel, The Lady from Tel Aviv, tackles the Palestinian-Israeli issue from the viewpoint of two protagonists: a Palestinian exile returning home to Gaza and an Israeli he meets in the airport. This is the award's third year. It is organised by Britain's Booker Prize Foundation and funded by the Emirates Foundation. The chairman of the judges, the Kuwaiti novelist and short story writer Taleb al Refai, said the titles had been chosen after "a democratic, objective discussion". The other judges were the Omani writer and poet Saif al Rahbi, the French academic and translator Frederic LaGrange, the Tunisian writer and lecturer Raja' Ben Salamah and the Egyptian writer and lecturer Shereen Abu El Naga. However, Dr Abu El Naga resigned from the panel on Wednesday. "The voting method was my main reason for resigning," she said. "There was no dialogue or discussion between myself and the other panellists and we could not debate our choices." The previous winners Baha Taher, for Sunset Oasis, and Yusuf Zaydan, for Beelzebub, secured English translations for their books. hkhalaf@thenational.ae