Cairo Book Fair Starts Today

The greatest literary show on Earth, we’re not.

The General Egyptian Book Organization calls it a “massive literary festival,” and oh, it’s massive all right. The fair’s at the International Fair Grounds in Nasr City and boasts about two million visitors a year.

Yes, two million.

Cairo Live Events Guide notes that the Italians have posted a schedule, but that otherwise it’s even more difficult than usual to know what’s going on where. The AUC Press is having “meet the authors” events on Jan. 30 from 1-3 p.m. and Feb. 6 from 1-3 p.m., and a whole raft of brilliant Russian authors will be on hand—this year Russia is the featured guest—but when? Where?

Al Masry Al Youm gives a little more detail:

This year the book fair will also host several exhibitions, including a caricature exhibition, a High Dam photos exhibition commemorating the dam’s 50th anniversary in collaboration with Russia, an exhibition of Suez Canal paintings and documents on the occasion of the canal’s 140th anniversary, and a documentary exhibition about Jerusalem.

The book fair will also focus on three cultural issues: scientific development, the global financial crisis and creativity in the Arabic novel.

Moreover, there will be poetry evenings with readings and discussions of the works of poets from different generations. The fair will focus on international and regional cultural issues, such as translation, publishing and intellectual property rights.

When? Where? You’ll have to go to find out.

Unfortunately, the event—like many others—is tainted by its association with the Algeria-Egypt football (soccer) violence. Algerian publishers have said they’re boycotting the fair; an Algerian artist was dis-invited after Egypt lost the World Cup match. So much for cultural bridge-building.

Also starting tonight: A much-needed anti-sectarian event, featuring Omar Sharif and Afghani author Tahir Shah.