According to Al Hayat, Ha’aretz, and Guardian editor Claire Armistead’s Twitter account, author and Beirut39 winner Ala Hlehel has thus far been unable to get to Beirut. Now the refusal is coming from Lebanon.
Hlehel, who was granted unprecedented permission by the Israeli government to travel to an “enemy” state and participate in the conference, now finds himself waiting for permission from the Lebanese embassy.
However, Hlehel may yet go. According to Ha’aretz:
Lebanon wants to avoid steps that could be interpreted as normal diplomatic ties with Israel, so the embassy is considering giving Hlehel a special transit certificate that would enable him to enter Lebanon without presenting his Israeli passport, sources familiar with the case told Ha’aretz.
Palestinian author Adania Shibli is reportedly also in London; however, her legal status hasn’t made the papers like Hlehel’s. But you can see pictures of both Hlehel and Shibli from the London PEN event that celebrated them; more photos of the Beirut39 kickoff (in Beirut) from The Daily Star.
Meanwhile, Claire Armistead is reporting on the Beirut39 conference via Twitter. She recently observed: “Big Beirut talking-point – how do you reconcile classical Arabic with desire to reflect modern, local lives (there may be no local readers).”
This is certainly an issue if Lebanese university students don’t know their alef, bey, teys.
Also on the topic: Metro has read the Beirut39 collection. The highlights (according to the U.K.-based pub):
Ahmad Saadawi’s Frankenstein In Baghdad lucidly conjures a war-torn body horror; Egyptian writer Hamdy El Gazzar’s Secret Pleasures exudes the melodramatic romance and eroticism that underpins classic Arabic-language literature; Jordanian poet Islam Samhan’s Who Are You Carrying That Rose For? is tender and chilling; Moroccan writer Abdellah Taïa depicts a painfully intense sexual awakening in The Wounded Man.
Oh, and if you’re in Beirut, you’ll need the calendar of events.
One last thing: A short piece in the Gulf Times about one of the Beirut19 winners.