The Sharjah International Book Fair opens tomorrow, and—although perhaps not as glittery as the March fairs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi—it’s reportedly the second most well-attended book fair in the region. This follows our slightly crowded (2 million visitors), slightly chaotic (line? what line?) exhibition in Cairo.
Presumably (since they’ve already produced a schedule), the Sharjah festival will be a bit more professionally oriented and organized than Cairo, while continuing to share some of Cairo’s openness and accessibility.
Headlining personalities at this year’s Sharjah fair include French novelist (and Nobel prize-winner) Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, Egyptian novelist (and “Arabic Booker” winner) Youssef Ziedan, and former CNN Middle East correspondent Octavia Nasr (who was dismissed this summer after a tweet about cleric Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, but has since started a new venture).
Far from shying from social media since summer, Nasr’s official site includes listings for a Dubai “tweetup” on October 27 as well as GeekFest Beirut.
Another major headline at the fair is the 1 million AED Etisalat Prize for Arabic Children’s Literature, which will be awarded on the festival’s opening day. (Good luck, everyone!) Shortlisted titles include two from Egypt (النقطة السوداء by Walid Taher and فرحانة وسر جمالها by Rania Hussein Amin) as well as the Jordanian (أحلام ورقة), Lebanese (أفتش عن هواية), and Palestinian (تعال العب معي) works.
There’s also a focus on science fiction (author Kevin Anderson will host a workshop), manga (workshops from Yishan Li), as well as other events to attract new and non-traditional readers.
Previews of the fair
Follow the fair on blogs
Follow the fair on Twitter
Follow the official @shjintlbookfair (English and Arabic), @ArabVoicesSpeak (Samar Dahmash Jarrah, English and Arabic) as well as @lisadempster. Other people likely to tweet a bit about the fair are @Bodour (Bodour Al Qasimi), @WafaKBR (Wafa Khalfan BR) and @ArabLit. The hash tag for all and sundry is #shjibf.