With Italy as the guest of honour at the 26th Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, who better to represent that country than its brilliant writer Umberto Eco, who sadly passed away in February of this year?
And so it was that the late author was celebrated in a talk by Manuela Mircos, at Al-Multaqa literary salon at the venue. The speaker provided valuable insight into the author's work and life, particularly his internationally renowned novel 'The Name of the Rose'. Mircos also told of her personal joy when it came to Eco's columns in one of Italy's leading papers as he wrote on diverse topics from ISIS to much less trivial topics as whether dogs could actually speak.
Contributing to the occasion, Al-Multaqa Director and Founder Mrs. Asma Siddiq Al-Muttawa in collaboration with Salah Hithani launched the latest of Al-Multaqa publications entitled 'Umberto Eco' in Arabic, which gives a summary of the author's life and achievements as well as an interview conducted by Lila Azam Zanganeh, and translated to the Arabic by Ra'ouf Alwan. Copies are free to collect at the salon.
International Prize for Arabic Fiction
Of course, being the day after the announcement of the most important prize in Arab fiction it was only natural that the winner, Palestinian writer Rabai al Madhoun, as well as the shortlisted authors for the prize would be there to meet readers and to talk about their works.
It seemed many had enjoyed reading Al Madhoun's book 'Destinies: Concerto of the Holocaust and the Nakba' and most were familiar with his previous novel 'The Lady From Tel Aviv' which was published in 2010 and was translated into English (see video link of al Madhoun talking about this novel HERE).
On the other hand, the author who practically stole the show, and left feeling like a rock star, was Moroccan author, Tareq Bakari, who blew the crowd away with his profound views and articulate well measured answers. He is charismatic, extremely well-read and played the audience like a well tuned violin. This young author's debut novel 'Numedia' (2015) was shortlisted for this year's IPAF and he has published numerous articles and pieces of creative writing, both in print and online.
'Destinies: Concerto of the Holocaust and the Nakba' by Rabai al-Madhoun was tonight, Tuesday 26 April 2016, announced as the winner of the ninth International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF). The novel, published by Maktabat Kul Shee (Haifa, Palestine), was named winner by this year’s Chair of Judges, Emirati poet and academic Amina Thiban, at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi. In addition to winning $50,000, Rabai al-Madhoun is guaranteed an English translation of his novel, as well as an increase in book sales and international recognition.
Rabai al-Madhoun, Palestinian-born but now a British citizen, lives and works in London as an editor for Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper. Al-Madhoun’s family emigrated from Ashkelon, Palestine – now Israel – to the Gaza strip after the 1948 Nakba exodus. Leaving Gaza to attend Alexandria University, he later became involved with the Palestinian liberation struggle as a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He left activism in 1980 to focus on writing and has written a number of works of fiction and non-fiction. This is the 70-year-old author’s third novel.
His 2010 novel, 'The Lady from Tel Aviv', was shortlisted for the 2010 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. It was subsequently published in English by Telegram Books in 2013 and won the English PEN Writers in Translation award that year.
A pioneering novel written in four parts, Destinies chronicles Palestinian life both in occupation and exile. Each part representing a concerto movement, the novel looks at the holocaust, the Palestinian exodus from Israel in 1948 (known as the Nakba) and the Palestinian right to return. It is a novel of Palestine from outside and from within. It examines everyday Palestinian life, telling the story of Palestinians living under occupation and compelled to assume Israeli nationality, as well as exiled Palestinians trying to return to their now-occupied home country.
After weeks of celebrating all six books on the remarkable shortlist, Suzanne O’Sullivan has been announced as the winner of the Wellcome Book Prize 2016 for ‘It’s All in Your Head’.
‘It’s All in Your Head’ is Suzanne’s first book, a focused look at the range of debilitating illnesses that are medically unexplained. We all exhibit physical responses to emotion – from blushing and laughter to palpitations and stomach ache – yet sometimes these expressions can be much more debilitating, causing seizures, paralysis and even blindness, and the stigmatisation associated with such a diagnosis is profound.
Charlotte Wood has been announced as winner of the 2016 Stella Prize for her novel 'The Natural Way of Things' at a ceremony that took place at the Sydney Opera House on Tuesday. The winner received $50,000, sponsored this year by National Australia Bank. The winning novel will be published in the UK and North America this year and the novel has already been optioned as a feature film.
The Stella Prize celebrates Australian women’s contribution to literature. It was awarded for the first time in 2013 to Carrie Tiffany for Mateship with Birds. In 2014, the winner was Clare Wright for The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, and in 2015 the winner was Emily Bitto for The Strays.
Brenda Walker, Chair of the 2016 judging panel, says of the winning book:
“The Natural Way of Things is a novel of – and for – our times, explosive yet written with artful, incisive coolness. It parodies, with steely seriousness, the state of being visible and female in contemporary Western society.
“With an unflinching eye and audacious imagination, Charlotte Wood carries us from a nightmare of helplessness and despair to a fantasy of revenge and reckoning. The Natural Way of Things is a riveting and necessary act of critique.”
by Rana Asfour
It seems that wherever Joumana Haddad goes, controversy is never too far behind. She is the author of the 2010 bestseller ‘I Killed Sheherazade’, a provocative book in which she challenged prevalent notions of identity and womanhood in the Middle East and spoke of how she came to create the Arab world's first erotic literary magazine, Jasad (Body), that has earned her both admiration and censure. That was followed by ‘Superman is an Arab’ which she wrote in 2012 and was described as a howl in the face of a particular species of men: the macho species, 'Supermen', as they like to envision themselves. Haddad rallied for the vital need for a new masculinity in the times of revolution and change in the Middle East.
And now this charismatic, and enigmatic Lebanese poet, author, journalist, academic and human rights activist is back with a new release ‘The Third Sex’, a final panel that makes up the triptych she confesses to always have had in mind since the release of her first book. It is by far the more mature of her writings, with less sex but far from subdued nevertheless. In fact she writes that the ‘anger, indignation and revolt are all here, in this new book, even more ardent than before’, and I can assure you, she’s not kidding.
‘The Third Sex’ is Joumana Haddad’s ‘personal life experience … meant to show the real wound from where the ideas, aspirations and propositions have bled’ culminating in the birth of this book in which she encourages the human race to re-discover its humanity and emerge a Humanus –Latin for Humane, a ‘Third Sex’; one that Haddad defines in her introductory note as ‘a human being transcending his/her differences (not cancelling them); a human being transcending his/her characteristics (not denying them); but most of all, a human being transcending everything that infuses hatred and ill-will in him/her. A human being stripped of all classifications and influences, except his/her humaneness’.
The book’s timely release is its major saving grace. It launches at a time when the world is witnessing barbaric acts of terrorism, and an Arab world that is having to deal with the repercussions of a spring revolt that has proven itself a bitter harsh winter instead. Therefore, it is particularly imperative in these challenging times that books such as Haddad’s serve as reminders that we are not all monsters and there is yet hope for mankind. What she advocates is an internal confrontation with the self that is well overdue in a last bid to preserving our humaneness – the essence of what defines us. Haddad in short is calling for a revolution: A Humane one to save mankind.
The book is divided into seven chapters with each one highlighting a particular quality that the author felt she ‘needed to acquire, nourish and develop in ‘Operation Humanus’: the Fighter, the Truthful, the Thinker, the Listener, the Compassionate, the Proud and the Rebellious’. Each of these stories consists of three segments: The Story, the Destination and the Dialogue where the pros and cons battle it out in a ‘sort of intellectual musing with the demons that hiss in our heads’.
Haddad’s book is rife with her own stories; a chapter that tells of her grandmother’s suicide and her own battle with depression, another on childhood lies and prejudices, while another includes a humorous tale regarding specific and general definitions of identity and heritage. She includes a moving piece as tribute to her sons, and in another speaks candidly about what it took for a handsome boy called Toni to finally notice her and the day she discovered Barbara Streisand. There is a chapter on sex featuring a sleepy dick.
And then there is Plato – the man himself – who has appointed the author his messenger to bring forth ideas he had missed in his ‘Republic’ – mainly ‘The Humane Being’. The great philosopher makes an appearance at the end of every chapter with advice he could have given on his deathbed.
If by now, this is all seeming a bit confusing, then you’re definitely on the right path because quite frankly it is. ‘The Human World is a Book’ writes Haddad, ‘The difficult kind; the kind people call a ‘tough read’ that challenges your predetermined views, your prearranged dispositions and your ‘familiar territories’. However, if you stick with it long enough - then she promises you a Magical Book like ‘Alice in Wonderland’ or one that is as diverse as a Dictionary, as perplexing as a Borges Poem, as subversive as a Marquis de Sade’s novel, even as entertaining as a Shakespeare Play’ – her examples not mine. Not quite! – my words, not hers.
Haddad advocates that our humaneness is our deliverance from the clutches of the afflictions of today’s social order that is built with ‘artificial measure units such as money, authority, sexual ‘norms’, gender, race, class, and so on and so forth’. And that in order to purge ourselves it is time we reconnected with the basic DNA of our being – our Humaneness – which is the one true element that can ‘stitch our dismantled and divided human family back together again’.
My initial reaction when I finished reading ‘The Third Sex’ was to tweet about it as ‘a relevant discourse in present turbulent times’. I completely stand by my initial impression although I do fear she will find it slightly more difficult to rally as many recruits for her cause with her latest book. Haddad can string her words, a fact no body can deny and although she presents a fierce argument, she also veers towards self-agrandizement and the sensationalist and until she tones it down, the noise is too deafening to hear exactly what it is she’s trying to say.
However, Haddad has never been one to shy away from addressing sticky issues even at the expense of sensationalising social taboos if it has meant getting her ideas across. So far it has worked and the accolades she has won are testament that she has done what others before have failed to do. And with this, her latest offering, readers can do far worse than to look inwards as a way to exude a better outward self especially if it translates into the collective advancement of all society to a better place, away from the destruction and the chaos. So, by all means, to that I say, Viva the revolution!
About the author:
Joumana Haddad is a Lebanese poet, author, journalist, academic and human rights activist. She has been selected as one of the world's most 100 most powerful Arab women for the past two years by CEO magazine Middle East, for her political and cultural activism. She is the cultural editor of An Nahar newspaper, and the founder of JASAD magazine, a one of a kind erotic cultural magazine in Arabic. She has received many national and international awards and recognitions, and her previous books 'I killed Sheherazade' and 'Superman is an Arab' have been translated to more than 15 languages. Her other works include 'Lilith's Return', 'Mirrors of the Passers by' and the play 'Cages'.
The London Book Fair welcomed publishing professionals from over 124 countries, authors and aspiring writers to a successful 45th Fair. From top author visits from Julian Fellowes, Jeffery Archer, Peter James, Marian Keyes, Judith Kerr, Tracy Chevalier, Jeanette Winterson and more, to six-figure book deals brokered and the best new talent discovered, The 45th London Book Fair 2016 was a vibrant showcase of international publishing and a bustling centre for rights negotiation.
Here are the fair's 2016 Top Deals:
- Hutchinson is to publish 'The Raqqa Diaries: Life Inside the Islamic State' by Syrian activist Mohammed. Jocasta Hamilton, publishing director at Hutchinson, acquired world rights directly from the author. (The Bookseller)
- Nobel Laureate Ohran Pamuk and Costa-winner Sebastian Barry have signed “major” new deals with Faber, while publisher Mitzi Angel has snapped up two “provocative” titles from UK academic Jacqueline Rose.
- Nadiya Hussain, winner of “The Great British Bake Off” in 2015, will write three contemporary women’s fiction novels for Harlequin imprint HQ.
- The ultimate make-up book, Face, by sibling vloggers Sam and Nic Chapmen has been acquired by Blink Publishing.
- Production company Playground has TV rights to Fiona Barton’s The Widow (Bantam) and Thomas Grant’s biography Jeremy Hutchinson’s Case History (John Murray).
- To mark the 150th anniversary of The Jungle Book, Macmillan Children’s Books have inked a deal for world English-language rights to a brand new survival book from Bear Grylls. Aimed at 10+ readers, the book is inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s title and is full of survival tips and will publish in October.
- HarperCollins has signed a new four-book deal with Cecelia Ahern.
- Portobello has signed a “masterpiece” by Man Booker International Prize-nominated author Han Kang. World English-language rights by The White Book have been sold to Max Porter.
Source: press release
Famous Islamic philosopher Ibn Rushd chosen as ‘Personality of the Year’ At This Year's Abu Dhabi International Book Fair
Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) has announced that the Arabic-Islamic philosopher Ibn Rushd will be the Personality of the Year at this year’s Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF).
The event, which will take place from 27 April to 3 May at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), will celebrate influential cultural figures, both international and Arabic.
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, ADIBF will aim to highlight Ibn Rushd’s character in a dedicated pavilion that will showcase his life and legacy. A part of the exhibition’s cultural programme will also be dedicated to discussing his character, influence and works.
Italy is 'Guest of Honour' at ADIBF
Italy, the exhibition’s guest of honour, will also be celebrated through an integrated programme that consists of cultural and professional events and activities for kids. Italy will also feature in the Cooking Corner and the Artists Corner, which will shed the light on the cultural dialogue between Emiratis and Italians.
Italy will use its dedicated programme to highlight its literature through a series of talks from a group of prominent authors, poets and academics. Italian publishers will also participate at a dedicated pavilion displaying the most important literary and scientific publications.
The Italian programme will also consist of a number of lectures and discussions with an array of speakers specialising in the publishing sector and education.
The topics include:
‘Storytelling and history writing’ by Valerio Massimo Manfredi
‘From Paper to the Screen: The Importance of Character’ by Antonio Mancini
‘The Italy of Tomorrow: fantasy, illustrations and novels for young people’ discussed by Beatrice Masini and Lishiah Troysa
‘Saints, Navigators… and poets? Italian poetry in the third millennium’ with Valerio Magrelli
‘Based on true stories: When history inspires novels’ with Louis Garneray
‘On the doorstep of a New Renaissance: Reference books on the future of the art’ with Melania Mazzucco and Vincenzo Trione.