Short Lists Announced for Asian and Arabic Literary Prizes

It’s an exciting day for world literature, as short lists for both the Man Asian Literary Prize and the International Prize for Arabic Fiction were announced today. The judges’ selections include novels from Tunisia, Malaysia, Iraq and Pakistan.

According to the Man Asian Literary Prize website, this year’s short list, winnowed from a pool of 15, “champions a debut novelist alongside a Nobel laureate, translated work as well as original writing in English, and includes smaller regional publishers as well as larger international houses.”

The five short-listed novels are:

Between Clay and Dust by Musharraf Ali Farooqi (Pakistan)
The Briefcase by Hiromi Kawakami (Japan)
Silent House by Orhan Pamuk (Turkey)
The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (Malaysia)
Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil (India)

Visit the Man Asian Literary Prize website for descriptions of each novel.

The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is sponsored by the Booker Prize Foundation and aims “to reward excellence in contemporary Arabic creative writing and to encourage the readership of high quality Arabic literature internationally through the translation and publication of winning and shortlisted novels in other major languages.”

A long list of 16 was announced in December. The six novels chosen for the short list are:

Ave Maria by Sinan Antoon (Iraq)
I, She and Other Women by Jana Elhassan (Lebanon)
The Beaver by Mohammed Hassan Alwan (Saudi Arabia)
Our Master by Ibrahim Issa (Egypt)
The Bamboo Stick by Saud Alsanousi (Kuwait)
His Excellency the Minister by Hussein Al-Wad (Tunisia)

You’ll find descriptions of each book on the International Prize for Arabic Fiction website.

Winners will be announced on March 14 and April 23 respectively.

I already have The Garden of the Evening Mists on my nightstand, and I’m looking forward to reading more from both of these lists.

How about you? Which of these honored books might make it onto your reading list this year?

Literary News from the Middle East and Asia

A late-season bout of flu has made me remiss in following up on the results of two distinguished literary awards, the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and the Man Asian.

Two days ago in Abu Dhabi, Lebanese writer Rabee Jaber was honored with the 2012 Arabic Fiction Prize for The Druze of Belgrade, a novel of exile following the civil war in Lebanon in the 1860s.

The press release announcing the award notes that the judges “praised the novel for its powerful portrayal of the fragility of the human condition through the evocation of a past historical period in highly sensitive prose.”

Ever since blogging about this literary prize, I’ve been trying to add several of the short-listed books to my reading list, and Jaber’s is one of them. However, I’ve had a tough time trying to find the book, which isn’t available through the public library system, on Amazon.com or on Amazon’s U.K. site, where I often go in search of hard-to-find books. I hope this distinction will give a higher profile to The Druze of Belgrade and make it more easily available. If you’re able to find it, I and other readers would be grateful if you’d share the source in the Comments.

For more information about Jaber and his latest novel and the other short-listed authors, visit the International Prize for Arabic Fiction website.

The Man Asian Literary Prize was awarded on March 15 to Kyung-sook Shin for her wonderful Please Look After Mom. This book is available at public libraries and at booksellers, and I highly recommend it (here’s my review of this and other books from the Man Asian short list).

To link to a BBC World Service interview with Kyung-sook Shin, visit the Man Asian Literary Prize website.