The International Prize for Arabic Fiction has published its longlist of sixteen novels, more than half of which were written by African authors from Sudan, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco.

The International Prize for Arabic Fiction “encourages the readership of high quality Arabic literature internationally through the translation and publication of winning and shortlisted novels in other major languages.” The prize is also known as the “Arabic Booker,” though it has no official affiliation with The Booker Prize.

Reflecting on the challenges the writers faced last year due to COVID-19 and increasing political unrest in their respective countries, Chawki Bazih, Chair of the 2021 Judges, remarks:

These 16 outstanding books from across the Arab world encompass a variety of styles and themes, from documentary-like narrative, to letters and ingenious use of the crime thriller genre, all penetrating the social and psychological fabric of Arab society. They have boldly exposed the many tragic faces of Arab reality and held regimes responsible for human rights abuse, the stealing of freedoms, persecution of women and their encouragement of violence, fundamentalism and wars.

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Below are the nine African novels longlisted for the 2021 International Prize for Arabic Fiction:

  • The Eye of Hammurabi by Abdulatif Ould Abdullah (Algeria)
  • The Orchards of Basra by Mansoura Ez Eldin (Egypt)
  • The Life of Butterflies by Youssef Fadel (Morocco)
  • Calamity of the Nobility by Amira Ghenim (Tunisia)
  • The Night Bird by Amara Lakhous (Algeria)
  • J by Sara al-Nams (Algeria)
  • Two Green Eyes by Hamed al-Nazir (Sudan)
  • File 42 by Abdelmeguid Sabata (Morocco)
  • Longing for the Woman Next Door by Habib Selmi (Tunisia)

The six shortlisted titles will be announced on March 29, 2021.