I was extremely pleased to learn of the existence of the brand new "International Prize for Arabic Fiction," which this year went to Egyptian author Baha Taher for his book Sunset Oasis. According to Bloomberg, "The $50,000 prize, announced at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi, aims to secure recognition for outstanding Arabic authors and to ensure that their works will be translated."

The list of finalists includes:

  • June Rain by Jabbour Douaihy (Lebanon)
  • The Land of Purgatory by Elias Farkouh (Jordan)
  • In Praise of Hatred by Khaled Khalifa (Syria)
  • Walking in the Dust by May Menassa (Lebanon)
  • Swan Song by Mekkaoui Said (Egypt)
  • Sunset Oasis by Baha Taher (Egypt)

Yes, I’m pleased to see a Jordanian on that list. This is really great news for Arab fiction and it is highly needed. I always enjoy reading Arab fiction. I have enjoyed it still more while here in the US since it is so hard to find. My friends and family have been extremely generous in providing me with the latest in Arab contemporary fiction. For that I’m truly grateful. Now I’d love to get my hands on a copy of Elias Farkouh’s The Land of Purgatory. Can anyone hear me?

Hat tip: [Moorish Girl]