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Issue 56 - March 2009

Monday 30 March 2009

Abu Dhabi Book Fair grows bigger and livelier

(JPG) Between 17th and 22nd March Next Page was in at the fair Abu Dhabi to present its new Encounters program for encouraging translations and exchange between Arabic and the languages of Eastern Europe. At our stand, shared with Literature across Frontiers (LAF), we presented recent translations of Arab writings by East European publishers, the results of our recent survey on the translation flow between the two regions as well as our widely recognized study “What Arabs Read”.

By far less attractive than the stands of other funding organizations at the fair, the Next Page/LAF stand was, however, richer in informational materials and networking possibilities that it offered.

To note in this year’s fair were the visibly increased presence of international publishers, the first ever antiquarian book-fair in the region and the 2-days conference on education. Indeed, the fair’s cultural and professional program was too rich for one to attend all of it but Next Page’s favorites this year included: the publishers’ matchmaking between Arab and international publishers, the incredible stands by Goethe Institute dedicated to German-language learning and the literary events with figures such as Rajaa Alsanea, Yasmina Khadra, Elias Khoury and others. But the most favorite remained the crowds of children and young adults flooding the fairgrounds to buy their favorite books.

Organized by KITAB, a joint venture between the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and the Frankfurt Book Fair, the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair seems to be making a real progress towards its ultimate goal – to become the hub for the Arab book markets and its links with the rest of the world.

Tamer Institute - Palestine Awarded the 2009 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

(JPG) The 2009 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award has been awarded to Tamer Institute for Community Education, promoters of reading active on the West Bank and Gaza. Tamer Institute was also Next Page Foundation’s main partner for the project Read Write Now, an initiative to promote reading and writing for Arab young adults.

The jury motives are that Tamer Institute stimulates children’s and young adults’ love of reading with perseverance, audacity and resourcefulness. Under difficult circumstances the Institute has carried out reading promotion of unusual breadth and versatility for already two decades. In the spirit of Astrid Lindgren the Tamer Institute acknowledges the power of words and the strength of books, stories and imagination as important keys to self-esteem, tolerance and the courage to face life.

Our warm congratulations to our partner Tamer Institute for the award. They surely deserve it!

New books published

(JPG)  Elif Shafak, Flea Palace, translation from Turkish into Arabic by Abdulqader Abdalli (Cadmus Publishers, Damascus 2009), supported by the South South Translation Grants Program

Flea Palace is one of the contemporary Turkish novels, which has gained explicit international acclaim. “… a hyperactive, hilarious trip with farce, passion, mystery and many sidelights on Turkey’s past,” writes “The Independent”. Paradoxically, the main “character” of the novel seems to be an apartment building in Istanbul, built by the Russian noble immigrant Pavel Antipov for his wife Agripina at the end of the Tsarist regime. The so called Bonbon Palace, while subtly carrying its aristocratic and enigmatic fame through the years, gets slowly infested by fleas, and haunted by some mysterious and intense stink of rubbish. Inhabited by ten families – all picturesque and fairy-tale personages – the Palace turns into an arena of multicultural encounters, where past and present, Orthodox Christianity and Islam, East and West cohabit, and the daily trivia is uplifted by the touch of magic realism. The novel is highly recommended by the critics for its skillful and enchanting story-within-story narration, borrowed from A Thousand and One Nights. A part of the charm, hovering around this book, definitely comes from the author’s persona – according to “The Economist”, the young female writer Elif Shafak “is well set to challenge Mr Pamuk as Turkey’s foremost contemporary novelist”.