Sharjah International Book Fair Opens Tomorrow; Fair’s Award Winners Announced

The biggest-ever Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) will open tomorrow, Nov. 4, on the heels of a two-day publishing conference that brought together more than 300 “specialists in publishing, writing, intellectual property, libraries, and publishing law”:

The publishing conference's matchmaking sessions have also exploded, with a reported 250+ rights professionals from around the world.
The publishing conference’s matchmaking sessions have also exploded, with a reported 250+ rights professionals from around the world. Photo: SIBF.

During her opening remarks at the publishing conference, Emirati publisher Sheikha Bodour struck a middle ground between conservatism and freedom of speech. According to the Khaleej Times, Sheikha Bodour “called on all stakeholders to open a serious and meaningful discussion about redefining the principle of freedom of publication, noting that international standards need to reflect the cultural diversity of all countries involved. She also invited conference members to discuss this essential matter with sufficient tolerance and flexibility, balancing the sanctity of freedom of publishing with the required respect for each nation’s culture and unique nature.”

Along with speeches and presentations, the publishing conference also featured matchmaking sessions, pictured right.

The winners of the SIBF’s 2015 awards have also been announced in advance of the ten-day fair. They include the Sharjah Award for the Best Arabic Novel, which went to Zeyad Ahmed Mahafza for his Prisoners of Darkness and the Best International Nonfiction Book Award, which went to Glenn Greenwald, with his No Place to Hide.

Winners will be honored during the book fair’s opening ceremony November 4, at which time the winners of the Etisalat Prize for Arabic Children’s Literature will also be revealed.

The Etisalat winner will be kept secret until the morning of Nov. 4, but the shortlist is public. In the Young Adult category, the shortlisted books are: Ibrahim Shalaby’s Exiting the Bubble, Mahmoud Shukair’s Jerusalem is My First City, Arwa Khamis’s Tea Party in Cinderella’s Palace, Hassan Abdulla’s Hen of the House that is Gone, and Anas Abu Rahma’s Yellow Corn Hostel. All the YA writers find themselves on the Etisalat shortlist for the first time.