Cairo International Book Fair to Open Wednesday, Themed ‘Culture on the Frontlines’

The 2016 Cairo International Book Fair is set to open on January 27, with the theme of “Culture on the Frontlines”:

cibfThe fair is scheduled to run through February 10.

The CIBF remains a massive event, with nearly two million visitors. And, according to State Information Services, “Up to 850 publishers will participate, including 50 foreigners, 250 Arab and 550 Egyptian publishers.”

That’s still far down from a peak of more than 3000 publishers in 2004, but shows some regrowth since the giant drop in 2005. The fair, which was first held in 1969, has been the site of vibrant protests over its forty-seven-year history. In 2005, police arrested a number of activists at the fair and charged them with “disseminating false propaganda against the government.” A number of lectures were canceled that year, and books, including those by poet Mahmoud Darwish, were banned. In 2008, more books were banned; in 2009, the cultural cafe where writers gathered was shut down and its hours changed. In 2011, the fair was cancelled.

Since then, the fair has been rebuilding itself and avoiding being open on January 25.

As always, there are a number of new releases to coincide with the opening of the fair, among them a collection of essays, Fodool Al Qotta (A Cat’s Curiosity) by popular Egyptian novelist Ghada Abdel Aal and a debut novel, Kol al-Ma’arek (All the Battles), by Jordanian short-story writer Ma’n Abu Taleb. Daily News Egypt has a rundown of other new releases.

Bahrain is this year’s Guest of Honor, and novelist Gamal al-Ghitani, who died last October, will be the Cultural Figure of the Year.

Unfortunately, thus far, the website seems to be blank.