At the time of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) shortlist announcement, ArabLit and 7iber had interviews with four of the five judges. One judge was missing, Mehmet Hakkı Suçin; he was unable to make the events in Amman because of health troubles. He graciously followed up with an email interview.
ArabLit: Did you have particular criteria as you went through and looked at the books? When wading through the initial 156 (!), what told you if the book might make the first cut?
Mehmet Hakkı Suçin: At the beginning of the process, we discussed as a committee the criteria on which we would rely in the process of reviewing the books. I said to myself: Is it possible for us to define criteria with which to choose one book over another? And indeed, I had set definitions to use during the evaluation process.
But after conversations with…