Booker 2021: Tunisians Amira Ghenim and Habib Selmi semi-finalists

Tunisians Amira Ghenim and Habib Selmi are in the full list of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, “Booker 2021” (International Prize for Arabic Fiction-IPAF). The jury unveiled the list on Monday, March 1, 2021.

“Calamity of the Nobility” by Amira Ghenim (Dar Mesaa) and “Longing for the Woman Next Door” by Habib Selmi (Dar al-Adab) feature in a list of 16 semi-finalist novels in the running for this 14th edition of Booker 2021.

Indeed, the jury will announce the six titles of the “short list” on March 29, 2021. Thus, the organizers will announce the winners of the 14th edition as part of an official ceremony. It will be held on May 25, 2021, as usually organized, in Abu Dhabi.

In addition, the Tunisian publisher “Meskiliani Editions” is present in the shortlist with three novels including “Calamity of the Nobility”, published in partnership with Dar Mesaa. The other two novels are “The Eye of Hammurabi” by Algerian Abdulatif Ould Abdullah and “Hole to Heaven” by Saudi Arabian Abdulla Al Ayaf, co-published respectively with Dar Mim and Dar al-Rashm.

The 16 semi-finalists are selected from 121 submissions of Arabic-language novels published between July 1, 2019 and August 31, 2020. They are the work of authors from 11 countries.

They represent :

  • Algeria;
  • Saudi Arabia;
  • Egypt;
  • Iraq;
  • Jordan;
  • Kuwait;
  • Lebanon;
  • The Morocco;
  • Sudan;
  • Tunisia;
  • And Yemen.

Moreover, the authors of this long-list, four women and 12 men, belong to the age group of 31 and 75 years. Ten authors join the Booker’s long-list for the first time.

“Collectively, the writers address important issues facing the Arab region today. From the suffering in Iraq, to ​​the spread of extremist organizations to the place of women”. This is what can be read on the Booker website.

“Thriller has a strong presence in this year’s 2021 list, with stories that explore crimes committed in the context of war and conflict and beyond. But also human relationships, loyalty, betrayal and the power of literature. And this, across the Arab world, in cities like Aden, Amman, Casablanca, Oran and others, are also among the themes explored by the semi-finalist novelists”. This is explained by the same source.

Indeed, the full list was chosen by a five-member international jury led by Lebanese writer and poet Chawki Bazih. The other members are:

  • Mohammed Ait Hanna (Moroccan writer, translator and academician);
  • Safa Jubran (academic who practices in Sao Paolo, Brazil);
  • Ali Al-Muqri (Yemeni writer);
  • And Ayesha Sultan (Emirati writer, journalist and editor).

Moreover, this prize managed by the Booker Prize Foundation is endowed with 50,000 dollars for the first winner. In addition, the organizers also offered him the necessary funding for the English translation of his novel. Knowing that the six novelists entered in the short list each win a prize of 10 thousand dollars.

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Booker 2021: Tunisians Amira Ghenim and Habib Selmi semi-finalists