First International Prize for Arabic Fiction

January 29, 2008 12:27:45 PM PST
Six authors from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt are on the shortlist.

The shortlisted books, chosen from 131 entries, are "June Rain," by Lebanese writer Jabbour Douaihy; "The Land of Purgatory" by Jordan's Elias Farkouh; "In Praise of Hate," by Syria's Khaled Khalifa; "Walking in the Dust," by Lebanon's May Menassa; "Swan Song," by Egypt's Mekkaoui Said; and "Sunset Oasis," by Baha Taher, also from Egypt.

Each of the finalists receives $10,000; the winner gets an additional $50,000.

The winner will be announced March 10 at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The award, backed by the Emirates Foundation, is intended as an Arabic counterpart to the prestigious Man Booker Prize, open to writers from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth of former British colonies.

Jonathan Taylor, who chairs the award's trustees, said one of its goals was to "secure recognition, reward and readership for outstanding Arabic fiction of the highest quality." He said the prize would sponsor translation of the winning book into other languages.