Book Fairs and the Locals

Now that I've returned from the fair, I've been reflecting on how difficult it is to say what "localization" and "roots" mean in a country that's 90-percent non-Emirati. This 90 percent -- of Pakistanis, Egyptians, French, Malaysians, Indians, Filipinos, Lebanese, others -- may contribute vibrantly to the country's development. Yet they cannot, as things currently stand, be considered locals.

Ahlam Mosteghanemi’s ‘Black Suits You’: Selling and Selling and Selling

If we had statistics for these sorts of things -- which we don't -- I might be able to say that Ahlam Mosteghanemi was the most popular living Arabic-language novelist: I was at first stunned to see the note from the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair,  announcing that Mosteghanemi would be visiting this year's fair. … Continue reading Ahlam Mosteghanemi’s ‘Black Suits You’: Selling and Selling and Selling

Memories of Naguib Mahfouz and the Movies

Playwright, journalist, novelist, and head of the Egyptian Writers Union Mohamed Salmawy flew to the Emirates last night to give a talk at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair about the new book Naguib Mahfouz: Man of Cinema. Salmawy didn't contribute to the book, but his long acquaintance with Egypt's only Nobel literature laureate provides … Continue reading Memories of Naguib Mahfouz and the Movies

Day 1: Impressions from the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair

Today marked the opening of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, and its first cultural events began this afternoon. The opening of the fair was quiet as publishers finished setting up their displays. A number of children's-book publishers and distributors expressed worry, as Abu Dhabi schools are not in session this week. In contrast to … Continue reading Day 1: Impressions from the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair

Two ‘Arabic Booker’ Judges on the 2012 Winner and Three Shortlisted Novels

Lebanese novelist Rabee Jaber won the 2012 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF, or "Arabic Booker") for his novel Druze of Belgrade. (Story in Egypt Independent.) Although the judges seemed satisfied with their decision, judging chair Georges Tarabichi said it was a "tough decision" and judge Maudie Bitar said, "There was a tough moment when we couldn't … Continue reading Two ‘Arabic Booker’ Judges on the 2012 Winner and Three Shortlisted Novels

In Photos: Rabee Jaber’s ‘Druze of Belgrade’ Wins International Prize for Arabic Fiction

Unfortunately, after the press conference, Rabee Jaber, who was clearly uncomfortable already, was nearly crushed by journalists and photographers. He decided after this to change his flight and return to Beirut tomorrow to be with his wife. In any case, مبروك to the deserving Rabee Jaber, and مبروك to New Directions and Gallimard for signing foreign-language rights to … Continue reading In Photos: Rabee Jaber’s ‘Druze of Belgrade’ Wins International Prize for Arabic Fiction

Does the Arabic Literary Scene Need More Jackals?

At the Abu Dhabi Book Fair this March, one of the sessions (Agents–How They Operate, How to Cooperate) addressed the paucity of Arab literary agents. According to Chad Post,  presenters concluded that: In order to further promote Arabic literary culture throughout the rest of the world, there needs to be more literary agents representing Arab … Continue reading Does the Arabic Literary Scene Need More Jackals?

Future ‘Robot’ Library on Display at Abu Dhabi Book Fair

To me, this looks oddly like the "robot pharmacies" at certain medical facilities in the U.S. They could address the aesthetic issue, I imagine. But, for goodness sakes, pharmacists play an important role in protecting our health. You can't just replace them with a drug-dispensing machine. And can you replace a good librarian with a … Continue reading Future ‘Robot’ Library on Display at Abu Dhabi Book Fair