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Top row from left: The Earthen Fortress; Christina; Passion; and Huddud’s House. Lower row from left: The Last Country; Flowers Consumed by Fire; The Critical Case of “K”; and The Second War of the Dog. Image from Publishing Perspectives.

Five novels by Africans are on the 16-title longlist of the 2018 International Prize for Arabic Fiction: The Earthen Fortress, by Egypt’s Ahmed Abdel Latif; Passion, by Egypt’s Rasha Adly; Flowers Consumed by Fire, by Sudan’s Amir Tag Elsir; The Black Peacock, by Sudan’s Hamed al-Nazir; and Leg Over Leg – in the Sighting of the Lovers’ Crescent, by Algeria’s Amin Zaoui.

Considered the most prestigious Arabic literary prize, the $50,000 International Prize for Arabic Fiction—founded in 2007 and organised with backing from the Booker Prize Foundation—honours the best novel written in Arabic in a given year. The 16-title longlist was chosen from 124 entries from 14 countries. Here are the longlisted books, along with their publishers.

  • Ahmed Abdel Latif (Egypt), The Earthen Fortress, Dar al-Ain
  • Atef Abu Saif (Palestine), Christina, Al Ahlia
  • Antoine Douaihy (Lebanon), The Last Country, Arab Scientific Publishers
  • Amir Tag Elsir (Sudan), Flowers Consumed by Fire, Dar Al Saqi
  • Aziz Mohammed (Saudi Arabia), The Critical Case of “K”, Dar Tanweer, Lebanon.
  • Amjad Nasser (Jordan), Here is the Rose, Dar al-Adab
  • Amin Zaoui (Algeria), Leg Over Leg – in the Sighting of the Lovers’ Crescent, Al-Ikhtilef
  • Dima Wannous (Syria) The Frightened Ones, Dar al-Adab
  • Fadi Azzam (Syria), Huddud’s House, Dar al-Adab
  • Hussein Yassin (Palestine), Ali, the Story of an Honourable Man, Dar al-Ru’aat
  • Hamed al-Nazir (Sudan), The Black Peacock, Medad
  • Ibrahim Nasrallah (Palestine), The Second War of the Dog, Arab Scientific Publishers
  • Rasha Adly (Egypt), Passion, Arab Scientific Publishers
  • Shahad Al Rawi (Iraq), Baghdad Clock, Dar al-Hikma, London
  • Taleb al-Refai (Kuwait), Al-Najdi, That al-Salasil
  • Walid Shurafa (Palestine), Heir of the Tombstones, Al Ahlia

Top row from left: Here Is the Rose; The Black Peacock; Baghdad Clock; and Al-Najdi. Lower row from left: Heir of the Tombstones; The Frightened Ones; Ali, The Story of an Honorable Man; and Leg Over Leg: In the Sighting of the Lovers’ Crescent.

The 2018 Prize is judged by: Sudanese-English novelist Jamal Mahjoub; Palestinian novelist and short story writer Mahmoud Shukair; Slovenian writer and translator Barbara Skubic; Algerian academic and writer Inam Bioud; and Jordanian academic and writer Ibrahim Al Saafin, who is the chair. Here are Al Saafin’s comments on their choices:

“The novels on the longlist are thematically and stylistically varied: realistic, fantastical, historical and social, but all in their different ways tackling Arab reality and the challenges faced by Arab societies on political, cultural and human levels, as well as grappling with questions of identity. They bring to life the tragic distortions and dreams of these societies, delving deep into the past to throw light on current issues.”

Six finalists—who would each receive $10,000—will be revealed in February, with the winner unveiled on 24 April, at a ceremony at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Abu Dhabi, on the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

Congratulations to Ahmed Abdel Latif, Rasha Adly, Amir Tag Elsir, Hamed al-Nazir, and Amin Zaoui.

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Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize and the 2019 Miles Morland Writing Scholarships. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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