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The International Prize for Arabic Fiction
The Arch and the Butterfly by Mohammed Achaari
Tackling the themes of Islamic extremism and terrorism from a new angle, The Arch and the Butterfly explores the effect of terrorism on family life. It tells the story of a left-wing father who one day receives a letter from Al-Qaeda informing him that his son, who he believes is studying in Paris, has died a martyr in Afghanistan.The novel looks at the impact of this shocking news on the life of its protagonist and consequently on his relationship with his wife.
The Doves’ Necklace by Raja Alem
The secret life of the holy city of Mecca is revealed in this astonishing story, The Doves’ Necklace. The world painted by the heroine Aisha embraces everything from crime and religious extremism to the exploitation of foreign workers by a mafia of building contractors who are destroying the historic areas of the city. This bleak scene is contrasted with the beauty of Aisha’s love letters to her German boyfriend.
An Oriental Dance by Khaled al-Berry
An Oriental Dance tells the story of a young Egyptian who, on marrying an older British woman, moves to England. Through his eyes, the reader is given a vivid account of the struggles and relationships of the Arab expatriate community living in the UK.
4 BANIPAL 40 – LIBYAN FICTION To find out the winner, go to www.banipal.co.uk on the evening of 14th March
My Tormentor by Bensalem Himmich
In this gripping novel, My Tormentor, whose narrative style is a blend of Kafka and One Thousand and One Nights, Himmich imagines an innocent man’s experience of extraordinary rendition in an American prison. During his captivity, the protagonist is subjected to interrogation and torture by both Arabs and foreigners and yet, against all odds, Himmich manages to find some hope in an otherwise desperate situation.
The Larvae Hunter by Amir Tag Elsir
The Larvae Hunter is the story of a former secret service agent who, having been forced to retire due to an accident, decides to write a novel about his experiences. He starts to visit a café frequented by intellectuals, only to find himself the subject of police scrutiny.
Brooklyn Heights by Miral al-Tahawy Through the eyes of the female narrator, Brooklyn Heights tells the story of New York’s Arab immigrants and those who live among them. By contrasting her experiences in her chosen home, America, and her homeland Egypt, she reveals the problematic relationship between East and West. It is a story of fundamentalism and tolerance, loss and hope in love. Simple yet full of rich detail, the novel evokes the atmosphere of America over the last decade.
BANIPAL 40 – LIBYAN FICTION 5