Lhe Algerian authors Boumediene Belkebir and Rouchdi Redouane are on the long-list of the 2022 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) for their novels Zanqat’ Al Talian and The Hungarian, respectively published by Al-Ikhtilaf and Dar El-Ain.
The two Algerians thus figure among fourteen other writers from nine countries including Egypt, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. This year’s jury, headed by the Tunisian writer Chokri Mabkhout – winner of the prize in 2015 for Etalyanni (Dar Tanwir, 2014 –), believes that the subjects covered for this new vintage cover several societal aspects which go “from the problems encountered artists, especially in times of war and persecution, to relations between East and West, through freedom, motherhood…”
The president of the jury also said in a press release that “this year’s works are remarkable, proving once again that literature is capable of shedding light on the scourges and ills of our societies”.
Yassir Suleiman, chairman of the board of directors of the prize, declared for his part that “the 15 works shortlisted for this 15th edition continue to explore themes relating to the social fracture of Arab countries and their relationship to their own culture. The voices of the marginalized are heard in these works. They question their exclusion, express their torment while revealing a nascent hope”.
Note that the shortlist will be unveiled next March, while the grand prize-winner will be announced in May 2022. Finally, it should be noted that the International Prize for Arabic Fiction has been awarded since 2007 by the Booker Prize Foundation in London and the Ministry of Culture of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
In its 2020 edition, the prize was awarded to the Algerian writer Abdelhouahab Aïssaoui for La cour de Sparta, published by Dar Mim editions. The work of the young writer is a historical novel, straddling reality and fiction.
It recounts the experiences of five characters – three Algerians and two Frenchmen, whose respective paths we follow as the Ottoman Empire declines and the French invasion gets organized, between 1815 and 1833. Each of the three Algerians has their own conception of independence from both the Ottomans and the French.
For Ibn Mayyar, for example, survival depends on the links he could weave, thanks to politics, with the two occupants. Hamma, on the other hand, reiterates that the only way to free oneself from the colonial yoke remains revolution. Douja, the only female character in the novel, is torn between these radical visions.
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