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Issue 18 - October 2005

Tuesday 1 November 2005

What Arabs Read? – a Next Page discussion at the Frankfurt Book Fair

(JPG) Despite its short title, the readership survey undertaken by Next Page in 5 Arab countries in fact intends to answer many more questions than just this one. Who in fact reads, why or why not, how does reading start and when and why does it stop – these are some of the questions that the survey conducted in Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Morocco attempts to answer. Its most interesting findings are yet to be announced but – perhaps not surprisingly – they all have to do with the ways people start or stop reading in their lifetime as well as with the status of reading in Arabic versus in other languages.

These were also the topics of debate during the panel discussion on Arab readership hosted by Next Page Foundation. The talk was moderated by Andrea Nuesse - Middle East correspondent for Der Tagesspiegel and the expert panel included Ibrahim El-Moallem - Director of Dar Al-Shorouk and President of the Arab Publishers’ Union, Gregor Meiering - project consultant and author of the Readership Report, Khaled Al-Hroub - Host of the Al-Jazeera book program and Founder of “Cambridge Book Reviews”.

For more information on the study, follow the news on our web site or contact Natasha Mullins.

Other highlights from Frankfurt

Everybody has his or her own Frankfurt – the variety of the book fair is so immense that there cannot be two identical paths through its program. For those who were unable to attend, here is a rough guide on some randomly selected facts and events that we have spotted between the busy schedule of meetings.

Korea’s elegant and rich presence as a guest of honor. The ever-expanding meanings of the words “book” and “publishing” reflected in the fact that each year larger and larger space is given to audio-books, electronic libraries and resources, toys with book characters, movies based on books, etc. The heated 3-hour debate on “Who will digitalize our books?” with Google print and the National Library of France as the main players. The first-ever publishing industry surveys conducted in 22 Arab countries undertaken by the Frankfurt Book Fair that – together with Next Page’s survey on Arab readership – provide a firmer foundation for related decisions and policy. The brand new and remarkably well-done collective stands of Serbia and Montenegro and Romania. Orhan Pamuk – winner of the Peace Price for Boersenverein and his brave and fine speech at the award ceremony. The profound discussion on “What is meant by world literature” at the International Centre. And many others...

Arab Translation Conference

In late September, most of the region’s key academics, practitioners, and policy influencers in the field of translation gathered in Beirut to discuss translation policies, tools, challenges, trends, and impacts. The 3 day conference hosted by The Arab Thought Foundation, was the first of what will ultimately become an annual event and part of a 9 day symposium on translation covering educational policy, publishing policy and donor activity. Prince Abdel Aziz from Saudi Arabia along with Lebanese President General Lahoud were in attendance along with more than 500 individuals representing various foundations, translation syndicates, international organizations, research departments, cultural councils and publications. Next Page Foundation was represented by Natasha Mullins who met with many of these individuals in order to establish contacts, develop new project ideas, and promote the South-South Translation grants program.

Newly published books

(JPG) Goce Smilevski, Conversation with Spinoza, transl. into Polish by Hanna Karpinska (Ofycina 21, Poland 2005), supported by the “East Translates East” Publications Project

The novel Conversation with Spinoza by the young Macedonian writer Goce Smilevski is an imaginary and “spider-web” dialogue with the great philosopher of the seventeenth century. An adventurous “tourist” in time, Spinoza’s fictional correspondent and talk-mate manages to subvert the image of the thinker, thus to construe the Other of Spinoza - a literary character, who is far from sharing the pathos of cognition and rationalism. Through revealing what the Western philosophical thought has been concealing for centuries, Smilevski’s novel enters a tradition of Central and East European writing, which in the last decade persistently plays a counter-discursive role to the discourse of the West European literary tradition.

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