“China will have a bigger booth this year…and has expanded its participation in the fair to an unprecedented extent.”
Leading Kuwaiti Writers Saud Alsanousi and Bothayna al-Essa on Pushing Back Against a Season of Censorship
“There was a time when we’d hoped that the state might sponsor and encourage young writers, because there are quite a number of young people at work writing novels. But today I’m not asking for any support from the state; all we ask is that they leave us in peace, and that we write without interference or guidance or censorship.”
“The Young Adult Book of the Year went to veteran Egyptian children’s-book author Rania Hussein Amin, author of the popular Farhana series, for her Sorakh Khalf Al Abwab (Scream Behind the Doors).”
The 22nd Casablanca International Book Fair (SIEL) opened February 12 and will continue through the 21st.
The Sharjah International Book Fair wrapped up on November 14. According to a prepared release, there were 1.227 visitors (or visits) and sales exceeded AED 135M ($37M).
The Sharjah fair has swollen from just a handful of events in 2007 to a promised “nearly 900” — or “more than 900” — literary events set for 2015, as well as an anticipated 1.5 million individual book titles.
This is not the first time for such a controversy.
The Sharjah International Book Fair ended on the 15th, and — by the numbers — it was the most successful in that city’s book fairs yet, drawing a number of visitors (or visits?) that puts it in league with the mammoth Cairo and Riyadh book fairs in terms of attendance.
The Muscat International Book Fair in Oman, which closes tomorrow and has in the past seen 800,000-some visitors, saw an infrastructural push this year. Meanwhile, the giant Riyadh Book Fair — which sees between one and two million visitors — opened on March 5.
Two Arabic book fairs were held at the beginning of December — one in Doha and one in Beirut — and they both reported slow sales. Al-Sharq al-Awsat said that “reports regarding the demise of the Arab-language book are perhaps looking somewhat exaggerated,” although noting that sales have been down for the past three years.
The “guest of honor” spot at book fairs is often controversial — in 2009, China’s honorary status at the Frankfurt Book Fair raised hackles and eyebrows, as did Saudi Arabia at Book World Prague in 2011. What does it mean to have a country “honored” at a fair?
Last week, contributor Kate Kasimor walked the grounds of the Sharjah International Book Fair, which runs through November 16. She shared a few photos and a few of her thoughts from the talks.