Focus on region’s tensions in Arabic fiction

International prize for Arabic fiction shortlist tells story of region’s tensions

Selection for ‘Arabic Booker’ focuses on ‘tyranny formerly present in the Arab world’

From family life in Tunisia to a man imprisoned in Dubai for a murder he didn’t commit and a man struggling to resolve the contradictions of his multiple identity in New York, the shortlist for the 2012 International prize for Arabic fiction offers portraits of life from Beirut to Brooklyn.

Speaking after the announcement of the all-male shortlist at a ceremony in Cairo on Wednesday, the chair of the judges, Georges Tarabichi, saluted the “innovative use of new styles” by the authors shortlisted for the $50,000 award, many of whom concentrated on “corruption and tyranny formerly prevalent in the Arab world”.

The Tunisian novelist Habib Selmi examines the tensions between religious tradition and modernity through the story of a family living in al-Basatin district in Tunis in The Women of al-Basatin, while the Egyptian writer Nasser Iraq follows a young man who heads to Dubai to look for work and finds himself arrested for the murder of a Russian prostitute in The Unemployed. The Lebanese novelists Rabee Jaber and Jabbour Douaihy delve into the troubled history of their homeland: Jaber’s The Vagrant finds a young man struggling in a society divided along sectarian lines during the civil war in the 1970s and 80s, while Douaihy reaches further back to recount the adventures of a group of fighters forced into exile after the 1860 civil war in The Druze of Belgrade. The Egyptian novelist Ezzedine Choukri Fishere charts alienation in New York with Embrace on Brooklyn Bridge while, in Toy of Fire, Bashir Mufti tells the story of a mysterious character who presents the author with an autobiographical account of his part in a shadowy organisation with links to the government.

Read full article @ The Guardian

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~ by eneryvibes on 1,January 22, 2012.

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