News from the 2017 Cairo International Book Fair, which opened January 26, has been somewhat grim, with reports of a fair overshadowed by “economic crisis” and 100 fewer Egyptian publishers than there were in 2016. A currency crisis also means the price of many books has doubled:
However, grim economy or no, the 48th book fair is still a mammoth event, continuing through February 10. Also, as Ahram Online reports, China has shown a growing interest:
China will have a bigger booth this year on 180msq and has expanded its participation in the fair to an unprecedented extent.
China has been showing a growing interest in Egyptian cultural life, and the first Chinese literary magazine in Arabic was released in October 2016 for a very low price. This year 25 Chinese writers, poets and artists will participate in the fair.
The Xinhua news service has posted a photo of the Chinese tent.
The fair’s official “person of the year” is Egyptian poet Salah Abdel-Sabour (1931 – 1981), and the guest of honor is Morocco. The slogan is “Youth and Future Culture.”
As always, there are a number of interesting new releases. Among them is a new short-story collection by Ahmed Naji, لغز المهرجان المشطور, which he writes has been in the works for some ten years, and had just come together before he was put in prison in February 2016, accused of indecency for an excerpt of his novel Using Life. The new collection was published by Dar Merit; you can find three short stories, translated by Mona Kareem, on ArabLit. You can find more on the Facebook page MysteriesODS.
Other new releases of note include a new book by Ghada Abdel Aal (whose I Want to Get Married! was translated into English by Nora Eltahawy) and Mansoura Ezz Eldin’s Shadowgraphs. Ezz Eldin’s novel Maryam’s Maze, trans. Paul Starkey, is available in English, as is her story “Gothic Night,” trans. Wiam El-Tamami.
Al Mal News posted a list of 10 books to watch for at the Cairo Fair, as did Ahram Online.
The overlap title is Ezzedine Choukri Fishere’s All This B.S., (كل هذا الهراء). Fishere’s Embrace at Brooklyn Bridge was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2012 and is forthcoming in English this spring from Hoopoe Fiction, trans. John Peate. In Fishere’s new book, we follow Amal, a woman planning to leave Egypt who wakes up in bed next to Omar, a man she doesn’t know.
Other books of note include Bahaa Taher’s autobiography, The Biography in Exile and The Life of Sayed El-Basha by Sawiris winner Ahmed El-Fakharany, which follows an unemployed man as he discovers a secret world. Egyptian novelist Hamdy al-Gazzar also has out a new novel, The Harem. Al-Gazzar’s Black Magic was translated into English by Humphrey Davies.
Mada Masr promises quirky coverage from the fair later in the week.