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(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, FEBRUARY 6 - The monologue of Claudio Magris 'She Will Finally Understand', a revision of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, which has recently been translated in Arabic, was staged in the Gomhouria Theatre in Cairo. The monologue, which is currently on tour in Italy and has recently finished a performance at the hotel Eliseo in Rome, is performed with passion by Daniela Giovanetti in the staging of Stabile Theatre of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. It represents the myth of Eurydice, killed by a snakebite, and Orpheus, who went to Hell to bring her back to earth but lost her forever, in an original and emotional way. However, in the wonderful text of Magris the main character is Eurydice, women and muse, and she is the one to choose not to return to life because she would not be able to give Orpheus the answers on death he is seeking. The performance was staged within the 39th edition of the two-week Cairo International Book Fair, which was closed on Monday and where Italy was guest of honour. The worst thing in the evening was the almost total absence of audience. Only 20 of the 400 seats in Gomhouria Theatre, one of the main theatres in Cairo, were occupied. This lack of interest is unexplainable in a city where there are thousands of Italians as well as many Egyptians and foreigners, who speak Italian.
(ANSAmed). 2007-02-06 12:00

(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, FEBRUARY 6 - Women writers met at the last meeting within the framework of the 39th edition of the Cairo International Book Fair, which ended after two weeks and had as guest of honour Italy. At this last meeting Lidia Ravera and Egyptian Salwa Baker discussed the role of women only to reach the conclusion that despite all existing differences they still remain less free in both societies. If Muslim women find themselves limited and constrained in certain situations and by certain religious rules, Western women are restrained by the myth of eternal beauty and youth. This is an argument that Ravera treats in her latest novel 'L'eterna ragazzà (The eternal girl). "Obviously they are freer (in the West) because they can show themselves, because they have to do it, they are slaves to a different obligation ... women can be ugly and old, hence they become freer and calmer. Women, however, become 'sadder', said Ravera talking to a predominantly male Egyptian audience in Italy's pavilion at the fair. Women, she added, are not allowed to grow older "they are shut up in the cage of being an object of desire". In the advanced West women are not considered people, but rather "salads, vegetables, chicory, greenery, as only the greenery should be consumed fresh". In the Muslim world, said Salwa Baker, author of different stories and novels including 'Describing the Nightingale', women are nothing else but 'merchandise''. Other meetings with Egyptian writers were attended by author and actor Ascanio Celestini and writers Niccolo Ammaniti, Silvia Ballestra and Tiziano Scarpa. The fair - 1,400 pavilions, more than 650 exhibitors from 26 countries - according to the organisers visitor numbers stood at nearly two million in the two weeks since January 23. No official statistics are out yet. Dominated as always by religious texts, with the Koran in all different editions, the fair was also an occasion for many young people to buy discounted books, including Western editions.
(ANSAmed). 2007-02-06 11:35

By Barbara Alighiero (ANSAmed) - CAIRO, FEBRUARY 6 - There is a saying in Iraq that "whoever has not seen Baghdad, has not seen the world, I have seen them both and would love to go back home": Adnan al Sayegh, one of the most prominent Iraqi poets exiled during Saddam Hussein's regime, now escapes from the death threats of an Islamic fundamentalism, unknown in his country until a few years ago. Sayegh, member of the Iraqi movement of poets of the 1980s, has written a dozen of collections of poems, some translated in Western languages. He has won several international awards and lives abroad - first in Sweden, then in London - since 1993. "It is not a choice, I cannot stay in Iraq. It is immensely sad, a population that has never desired anything else than freedom, peace and security now has no hope," Sayegh said in Cairo, where he took part in the International Book Fair, that has just ended. The last time he visited Iraq was in April 2006. He was invited to read his verses at the Al Marbed Poetry Festival in Basra, in the Shiite south. "Of course poems are still written in Iraq, but how can we talk about them?" With two enormous fountain pens behind his back, Sayegh recited extracts from his collection 'Uncomfortable Verses'. The audience responded with ovations, but when the poet returned to his seat a men, dressed in a western suit, approached him and said: "If you continue we will cut off your tongue". "The guerrillas have decided that my verses are blasphemous, but they will not stop me, I will continue to fight with my pen against their forest of weapons. They will never succeed in silencing the voice of poetry," Sayegh said. "I am neither a Shiite nor a Sunni, I'm only an Iraqi and they want to kill me because I say it loudly, because I refuse to fall into this game of massacre." Born in Kufa in 1955 and raised in Baghdad, Sayegh started to write poems for his ill father when he was 10 and continued to do it with passion throughout his life. His poems are political, full of criticism. "What I have in my pocket is not a passport, but the story of oppression (of a country) where for over 50 years we, as animals, have chewed and swallowed speeches... by the president, streets of the president, songs for the president, museums of the president, gifts for the president, trees of the president..." Sayegh wrote during his exile. "I will return to Iraq when it is free and I will be able to write and read my poems," said Sayegh, who is well-known in Egypt too. The only thing I want is freedom. But I miss Euphrates very much," said the poet who loves Rimbaud and Baudelaire.
(ANSAmed). 2007-02-06 09:59

(ANSAmed) - ROME, FEBRUARY 5 - Hundreds of thousands of visitors and 650 publishers from more than 35 countries took part in the 39th Cairo International Book Fair, which this year featured Italy as a guest of honour and which closed yesterday. Italy held 70 events in 13 days, including meeting, conventions, round tables, performances, most of them organised outside the Fair, at the Italian Culture Institute, enlivened by more than 60 representatives of the Italian culture. There were two stands at the Fair, one institutional and one commercial with books from some eighty publishing houses in a humble stand without even a sign or writing to identify it as the Italian area. Many Italian writers arrived in Cairo for the occasion, from Claudio Magris to Antonio Tabucchi (whose books were published in Arabic), Edoardo Sanguineti, Daniele Del Giudice, Domenico Starnone, Lidia Ravera, Niccolò Ammaniti, Ascanio Celestini who met Egyptian authors including Gamal Al-Ghitani, Mohamed Salmawy, Salwa Bakr, Ahmed Alaidy, Alaa El Aswany and Hassan Teleb. Lively discussions came out on issues concerning the meeting between the cultures coordinated by historians and Arabists such as Franco Cardini, Isabella Camera d'Afflitto, Francesca Corrao and Antonino Pellitteri and with the speeches of the 'Limes' editor-in-chief Lucio Caracciolo and 'Reset' editor-in-chief Giancarlo Bosetti, ANSA chairman Boris Biancheri and CEO Mario Rosso, plus many distinguished representatives of the Egyptian media world. On the sidelines of the fair, ANSA and Egyptian news agency MENA signed the new agreement for a cooperation active also in the Mediterranean area, thanks to ANSAmed, which unites 18 agencies from the area to give them a single voice. The fair hosted also the first big international Arab conference on copyright which is expected to bring order in the relations between publishers from the Arab world and from the west. Italy was represented there with Carlo Fletrinelli, Antonio Riccardi (Mondadori), Paolo Zaninoni (Rizzoli) and the director of Italian Publishers' Association (AIE), Ivan Cecchini. The Italian delegation, led by Culture Ministry Undersecretary Andrea Marcucci with Italian Ambassador to Cairo Antonio Badini, gave Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on the opening day the numbered anastatic copy of a poetry anthology manuscript by Ibn Dawoud al Asfahani (9th century Arab writer) on behalf of Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli. The copy, kept in the Royal Library in Turin, is dedicated to love which acted as an intermediary between the Arab lyrical tradition and the European experience of the troubadours and the poets of the dolce stil nuovo. The Italian participation in the Cairo Fair was promoted by the Directorate General for Books and Culture Institutes at the Italian Culture Ministry with the Book Institute, together with the Directorate General for Cultural Promotion and Cooperation at the Italian Foreign Ministry, the Italian Embassy and the Italian Culture Institute, in agreement with the Culture committee at the Conference of the Italian Regions and Autonomous Provinces, Italian Publishers' Associations and in cooperation with the National Writers Union.
(ANSAmed). 2007-02-05 17:15

(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, FEBRUARY 5 - Khaled al-Khamisìs simple but biting book "Taxi...or the Danger of Trips" (Taxi... hawadit el mashawir, publisher el-Shorouk) was a closing highlight of the 39th edition of the International Book Festival in Cairo, which ended yesterday after two weeks of activities. The son of renowned author Abdel Rahman, 44-year-old Khaled al-Khamisi is best known for his television screenplays. Taxi is an ironic, sometimes dramatic sequence of the daily nightmare in a huge city of 17 million people, told by taxi-drivers who remain sleepless sometimes for three days in a row in order to gain the money needed for the maintenance of the car. The book is also a criticism of the social hypocrisy, which finds expression in the veiled women who are forced to uncover for a restaurant job. The work describes an unknown man crying for the "curse which has struck Iraq", or speaks ironically of "poor Egypt: the economy is collapsing, but there is not a single person without a mobile telephone on the ear or a pack of cigarettes in their pocket!", or promises "if I were president I would have banned advertising, which creates useless needs for the people and encourages communism", or complains "Sadat used to defend us, with Mubarak Egyptians are mocked at everywhere." "Being a taxi-driver in Egypt is exhausting in all aspects: physically, for the hours of sitting inside the car, amid traffic jams, pollution and roaring, and people are put to a tough trial of their nerves, while police treat them with methods, worthy of the envy of the Marquis de Sade," the author said. "This is a job for those, no matter ignorant or educated, have not found other work, but very often taxi-drivers are a species of philosophers who know how to view reality with unexpected criticism and sarcasm."
(ANSAmed). 2007-02-05 16:58

(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, FEBRUARY 5 - The Arabic translation of the book "La stanza di Ali Baba. Storie di un Iraq sconosciuto" (Ali Babàs Room. Stories of an unknown Iraq), by Italian newspaper Il Messaggero correspondent Valerio Pellizzari, has been presented at the 39th edition of the Cairo International Book Fair, where Italy is guest of honour. Pellizzari briefed a numerous audience at the Italian pavilion of the Fair on the story of his book, which was born during the British-America invasion of Iraq in 2003, and how "for the first time in my work the words did not help me" to describe the "confusion of the population", to recount a war he had "never seen" in 40 years as correspondent of the Rome-based daily in every conflict in Asia and in the Middle East. This is the tale of humble people who had lived for 30 years under a dictatorship until some countries decided to free them with bombs, Pellizzari added. "I sincerely don't know what exporting democracy means," said the journalist, drawing parallels with Afghanistan from 25 years ago in which the Soviets tried to export the revolution. According to Pellizzari, NATO, "unknowingly, I hope, is making the same mistake as the Kremlin generals did in Kabul," with the consequent devastating defeat of the Soviet empire. The presentation was attended also by Ezzat el Kamhawi, deputy editor of Akhbar Al-Adab, as well as author of various books, including a critical novel on the regime in Egypt, "A Room on the Nile". Kamhawi emphasized the importance of the words and of Pellizzarìs book to resist the superficiality of the television image - "the only winner in this war". "They said the war was made by U.S. President George W. Bush in the name of God and also by Saddam in the name of God, but neither God, nor mercy was found in the refuge of Ali Baba," famous Iraqi exiled poet Adnan Al-Sayegh said. The book, published in Italy in 2004 by Sperling & Kupfer, was printed in Arabic in one thousand copies by private publishing house Afaq, set up two years ago.
(ANSAmed). 2007-02-05 12:19

(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, FEBRUARY 2 - Several books, including works of Milan Kundera and 'Zorba the Greek' by Nikos Kazantzakis, have been seized by the Egyptian customs authorities preventing their presentation at the Cairo International Book Fair. "There is lack of communication between the Egyptian authorities and the publishers on this issue," Nabil Nofal, sales manager of Lebanese publishing house Dar al Adab, said. "They ban books without even talking to us and they do not return them." Nofal said also that he has not been officially informed about the ban of these books, all translated and written in Arabic. "We immediately understood it was all due to censorship," he said. The books seized include two works of French author of Czech origin, Milan Kundera (including the bestseller 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being') and an autobiography by Egyptian author Nawal al Saadawi. Saadawi, well-known feminist activist, told France Presse that another of her books has been withdrawn from the Book Fair by the Egyptian publisher Madbouli due to the pressure exerted by the secret services. Imprisoned in 1981, the author of some 30 works, including several censored ones, claims she is a "target because she attacks the taboos of sex, religion and power".
(ANSAmed). 2007-02-02 12:16

(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, FEBRUARY 1 - "Translation is betrayal. What should be kept unchanged and what gives the truth and the style of the text is its rhythm, its music," Claudio Magris said in Cairo at the Book Fair where Italy is a guest of honour. Magris said this at the presentation of the translation in Arabic of his "Lei dunque capira" (She will understand). Predrag Matvejevic and Antonio Tabucchi have also arrived to take part in the event, again on the occasion of the translation of their works, while Edoardo Sanguineti and Antonio Riccardi spoke of the version of "Le Poesie" by Giuseppe Ungaretti. "Sometimes the translation needs a real distortion in order to keep the original sense. The symbolic value of a colour, for example, is different in the different cultures, and therefore it should be adapted to those who read it," Magris continued. His historic-narrative essay Danubio is also being translated. Tabucchi will be presented in the Egyptian bookstores with 'Notturno indiano', which has been praised by Alaa el Eswany, the author of 'Palazzo Yacoubian', who is the real star of the Fair. Predrag Matvejevic has seen recently the launch of his essay 'Mediterraneo'. The Egyptian version has revised the Tunisian edition according to the stylistic differences in the two regions. The translation of Ungarettìs poems, especially those linked to his stay in Alexandria, was welcomed by everyone and his work was recalled by the two Italian authors and the translator Adel el Siwi. However, the problem with control and respect, both legal and cultural, for intellectual property, remains. Many people in Egypt still make translations without having the rights and a contract for that, freely amending the original mostly in those parts, which are incompatible for some reasons with the absurd and extremist religious rules of the Islam today. "A sign of the Koran, Mohamed or whatever is enough to change the rhythm," Magris said. "This is a crazy story, not even the historical quotations in inverted commas are respected. This means that I, writing an essay on Nazism, cannot quote Hitler as his words are wrong according to the modern ideas and morals," he concluded.
(ANSAmed). 2007-02-01 20:21

(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, JANUARY 30 - The goal of overcoming barriers and differences between Europe and Arab countries, between the two shores of the Mediterranean, has not been accomplished so far. "If we look at the past ten years what we see it's only failed attempts," ANSA CEO Mario Rosso said today at a conference on information in the Mediterranean area held in Cairo within the International Book Fair, where Italy is guest of honour this year. From the necessity of creating a "different voice" aimed at expressing a common point vue the ANSAmed project was launched, Rosso added. From events such as the Mohammed cartoons or latest Popés statements on Islam it emerged that "we did not understand each other", ANSA CEO said. "That is why we have created ANSAmed, which is not a voice against others but represents a network of relations between news agencies aimed at giving the Mediterranean an opportunity to be subject and not object of the discourse," he added. Italian journalist Lucia Annunziata, former president of RAI, underlined that besides journalistic information, media such as television and cinema have to be involved, while Egyptian Galal Aref, president of the Associationof Egyptian Journalists explained that "the western world should start considering the arab world as a whole, not descending from Osam bin Laden but from writer Naguib Mahfouz". Italian ambassador to Cairo Antonio Badini spoke about several cooperation projects carried out in the last few years between Italy and Egypt. As a consequence of that, Egypt has been and still is the first partner of ANSAmed thanks also to an agreement with state-run Mena news agency.
(ANSAmed). 2007-01-30 20:33

(By Paolo Petroni) (ANSAmed) - CAIRO, JANUARY 30 - It is not only a matter of extremism, but rather a feeling of being besieged and living in a kind of wartime regime, in Egypt as well as in the other Arab countries. And whether this is true or a consequence of propaganda, it does not really make a difference on a daily basis. This is what emerges from the meetings organised at the Cairo International Book Fair, where Italy is guest of honour this year. A young writer like Ahmed Alaidy, who has also studied in America, speaks of the youngsters who feel caged as if in a ghetto in their country after 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and he is quick to stress that his play with the words comes from spoken language and not from the literary and sacred classic language of the Koran. Multi-award winning poet Abdel Moneim Ramadan spoke of "the American pressure which is felt everywhere and influences the artist, who cannot do anything but express this trouble and communicate it by supporting himself on the Koran itself, on the language which has precise limits not to cross, as well as on its teachings." Another poet, equally multi-awarded and much more popular, Hassan Taleb, speaks in the names of the artist freedom "who cannot bow to pressure but on the contrary tries to overcome it" and that "a real poet, signing the religion, writing verses of religious inspiration, does it out of intimate necessity not to answer the rules imposed by the religious authorities." It is not by chance that a historical and critically secular book on certain aspects of the Koran poetry of Taleb was seized and banned, reminded Francesca Corrao, Italian Arabist who studied in Cairo for many years. Corrao was invited to coordinate a meeting between Edoardo Sanguineti and two Egyptian writers on the difficult theme of the relations between poetry and society, organised by the Italian Culture Institute. It was not an easy debate, especially after Sanguinetìs introduction who spoke of "poetry as rebellion, to put it in Adornòs words, need to bring chaos into order, because the poet is viewed as a stranger in the bourgeois society and it is Thomas Mann's man who makes a deal with the devil in order to become artist, his voice is one of demonic possession, which in ancient times appeared a sacred possession, which leads him into present himself as a rebel and, in the best of cases, as revolutionary." "We need to be careful on these issues," Teleb answered, "because the artist, the poet have their social role", adding that "the poet plays with the words not for pure entertainment but to go beyond appearances, because the language, in the tensions and variety of meanings which poetry donates it, becomes alive and makes the reader feel alive, helps them discover the truth which every human being preserves in their souls. Here lies religiousness of poetry which, as in religious texts, is naturally in relation with society, but indirectly." Corrao reminded how the situation changed after 1967 and the war lost to Israel. "The poets returned to represent the people and make civil verses, of commitment and fight, like the ancient Arab authors who expressed the feelings of their tribes, the pain of all. Perhaps closing in their traditions. Before poetry was freer and it was enough to remember a figure like Gibran and his prophetic inspiration which put into discussion the classic interpretations and raised strong, but free discussions."
(ANSAmed). 2007-01-30 17:42

By Paolo Petroni (ANSAmed) - CAIRO, JANUARY 29 - An absurd life of complete confusion, full of fears and phobias with even violent consequences: this is how the Egyptian youth lives after September 11, according to an ironic and desperate novel that has achieved a status of cult among young Egyptians and has sold out three editions since October. The book is entitled "Being Abbas el Abd" and is written by, Ahmed Alaidy, 30, born in Saudi Arabia and living in Egypt since he was 15, during the first Gulf War. Alaidy's appearance in the Italian pavilion at the Cairo International Book Fair, where Italy is a guest of honour, was among the most attractive and interesting events. "We are the generation that has nothing to lose and came after the generation of the big defeat (the 1967 war with Israel). And now things are even worse. We live in a war that has never been declared, abandoned to ourselves, isolated. We are the new Jews, prisoners of our own countries like a big ghetto." Alaidy is determined and serious in denouncing the disquiet of his generation "autistic and isolated, and becoming violent" thanks to mobile phones and the Internet, which "should have been windows for communication". The protagonist of his novel, which makes no hint to September 11, is a practically schizophrenic boy who lives mixing two realities, as well as the two women in his life. What further deepens the problems is an uncle, a kind of guru, who wants to cure him but to also profit from him, making him pursued by one of the unfaithful young women, who will write the phone number of Abbas in all public restrooms and other places she visits. Thus, in a whirl of surprises and madness, of personal interrelations and doubts, of fears and illusions, the book comes to a seemingly tragic end, but maybe this is not so true as it seems but on the contrary, everything seems to start again in an end of the story which sends back to the beginning. It is not accidental that Alaidy works for periodicals for young people, which imitate the American mad-magazines, writes for the television, makes cartoon strips and presents the world as a thing without a meaning, ready for a spiritual fight or provocations to the verge of absurdity. He also claims to be interested in mental diseases, to have read books on psychology and psychiatry in order to create his personage, finding out that those books have significantly multiplied in the Arab world since September 11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Telling such a reality on the thread of madness, serves to speak without being pressed by political implications and external propaganda, in regard to which he constantly repeats that his linguistic plays are allowed as they do not use the sacred language of the Koran, which is untouchable and is perceived quite seriously. Alaidy affirms that the Egyptians are a people of humorists, but he found his models abroad, when he went to study in the USA. He quoted the names of Chuck Palahniuk of "Fight Club" and "Generation X" by Douglas Coupland, while for the writing, dry, with short phrases, often for effect, refers to the Internet and chats, but provoked, answered that "the Arab literature does not need to westernize in order to become modern, and he has tried a connection between its tradition, that most open to free invention, and western influences, hoping that something new and real could come up from this."
(ANSAmed). 2007-01-29 17:46

(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, JANUARY 29 - Participating in the 39th Cairo International Book Exhibition for the first time, Greece has received a particularly warm welcome. In addition, Greece has been mooted as the theme country for the 40th edition of the event, the most important in the Middle East and the Arab World. Greecés National Book Centre director Catherine Velissari told ANA-MPA news agency she was satisfied with Greecés participation at this world forum of publishers from countries including France, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, China and Turkey. At the exhibition, which was inaugurated last Tuesday by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Velissari said the exhibition's president, Nasser Al Ansary, had proposed Greece to be the theme country for the next exhibition which will be held next year in the Egyptian capital. At the same time, the director of the National Book Centre signed a protocol of cooperation with the president of the Cairo International Book Exhibition, so that Egypt to officially participate in the corresponding exhibition in Thessaloniki, central Macedonia. The 39th Cairo International Book Exhibition, ends on February 4. (ANSAmed).
2007-01-29 15:26

(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, JANUARY 29 - Tiziano Terzani with 'La fine e' il mio iniziò (The End is My Beginning), Giuseppe Conte with "La casa delle onde" (The House of Waves) and publishing house Jouvence, specialised in texts of authors from the Arab world, are among the winners of of the Mediterranean Book Awards announced during the Cairo Book Fair, where Italy is guest of honour. The awards, coordinated by Arabist Dounia Abourachid and given by a mixed Arab-Italian jury, was set up to encourage and award translation, publishing, promotion and spreading of works which help better understand "the Other." The award will be given annually during a Book Fair in a Mediterranean country. It is Turin Book Fair's turn in 2008, when Egypt is guest of honour. Winners of the Cairo edition are: Section Publisher: Egyptian Afaq and Italian Jouvence. Section Translators: to Egyptians Khalial Kalfat, Adel el-Siwi and Bechir Sebaie. Section Promotion: to the literary artistic circle Atelier du Caire (an award given in cooperation with the Italian Culture Institute in Cairo). Section Authors: to the work "A Jew in Cairo" by Egyptian Shehata Haroun (published by Dar El Alam El-thaleth) for promoting co-existence between religions in a geographic area of ancient history. 'La fine e' il mio iniziò by Tiziano Terzani (published by Longanesi) was awarded as an authentic handbook on the road towards mutual comprehension between the peoples and the cultures. Giuseppe Contés 'La casa delle onde' (published by Longanesi) was awarded for having evoked the poetry and the ideals of great poet Shelley. Lenin El-Ramlìs 'Take off the Masks' (published by Dar Misr Mahroussa) was awarded for promoting the co-existence between religions in a geographic area of ancient history. An award was given to Pier Giovanni Donini for supporting the translation in Arabic of his work 'Breve storia del mondo islamico dal 500 a oggi' (Short History of the Islamic World ) (Laterza). The jury included Maria Ida Gaeta, artistic director of the International Literature Festival of Massenzio; Hoda Wasfi, University of Ain Shams, scholar, translator, editor of the magazine 'Fosoul' and theatre director of 'Hanagher'; Franco Cardini, historian from the University of Florence; Isabella Camera D'Afflitto, Arabist from the University of Roma; Lucio Caracciolo, political analyst and director of Limes; Monica Ruocco, University of Palermo; Mona Zaki, American University of Cairo; Maurice Mikhail, director of the library Mubarak; Lobna Abd El Aziz, writer, and Helmi Shaarawi, director of the Arab and African research centre. (ANSAmed).
2007-01-29 13:46

(ANSAmed) CAIRO, JANUARY 29 - A two-volume anthology dedicated to the work and cinematic efforts of Egyptian Nobel Prize Literature Laureate Naguib Mahfouz has been presented for the first time at the 39th edition of the Cairo International Book Fair, which runs until February 4. The anthology, the fruit of 20 years of research and finished five days before Mahfouz's death last August, was compiled by the Arts Academy, under the auspices of director Madkour Sabet. The two big volumes contain all written works between 1947 and 2000 on Mahfouz's films, also the scriptwriter of different films based on his novels. The work, in Arabic, will be translated in English, French and German.
(ANSAmed). 2007-01-29 11:36

(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, JANUARY 26 - It may not be the most important book fair in the world, but it's certainly the most visited book bazaar - and the outlook is promising. Mark Linz, director of the publishing house of the American University of Cairo (AUC Press,) is convinced that the International Book Fair of Cairo, open until February 4 in the Egyptian capital, will grow in prominence - and not only in the Arab world. Even if visitor numbers reached half a million and not 1.5 million as in 2006, the Cairo Fair would remain the most visited in the world, in terms of general public and not professionals in the sector, Linz, who has led the main English-language publishing house in the region for ten years, told ANSAmed. The first time he visited the fair was in 1983. Much has changed since then, it is better organised and the event is no longer only an exposition space for books but has become an important cultural event in the area, Linz said. Unfortunately, there are generally too few delegations of European publishers, who sell their books but do not personally visit to the fair. According to official statistics, this 39th edition will see the participation of 667 publishing houses, of which 514 Egyptian, 118 Arab and 35 western. "It is a bazaar, a typical Arab fair, a market where you bargain to get the best price," Linz added. Egyptian readers, who are not numerous but whose mass is growing, save money to go and buy books at the fair and this is encouraging, he added. The AUC Press pavilion will present the 800 books in its catalogue, novels by modern Arab authors, reprints of Nobel Prize winner Mahfouz, who died last year, history books, books dealing with political,economic and social issues. AUC Press publishes 80 new titles every year. There have never been any serious problems with censorship and there is no self-censorship, Linz said. AUC Press first published the English version of the controversial bestseller The Yacoubian Building by Alaa al Aswani and will also publish the new novel by the same author, titled Chicago. The production in English is not only for foreigners, those who have learned this language or those who are in contact with the western world for various reasons prefer this version, Linz said.
(ANSAmed). 2007-01-29 10:03

(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, JANUARY 26 - Politics excluded from Cairòs International Book Fair? The demand of the fair's new director, Nasser al Ansari, who wants to limit the event to a market of books at bargain prices, were received with irony and disdain. "These statements reflect the regimés fear of the opposition. It is normal that an elderly police officer like Ansari makes such decisions. In any case, it would be difficult to keep politics away," writer Alaa Al Aswani, author of the best seller The Yacoubian Building, said. The 39th edition of the major book fair in the Arab world, which opened to the public on January 25, 2007, is much more than a huge bookstore, also thanks to the programme prepared by Italy, the country guest of honour, which includes the participation to round tables of dozens representatives of the Egyptian cultural world. "If you want politics you should turn somewhere else," Ansari told Egyptian journalists. "From now on the activity of the fair will consist in selling books at low prices," Ansari, former director of the Arab World Institute and director of the Cairo Fair as of this year, added. Demonstrations have been repressed in the last two editions of the event which until several years ago offered the only opportunity to discuss in public politics in Egypt. The moderate reforms in 2005, restrained by the events in the region such as the victory of the Islamic Hamas movement in the Palestinian general election which awoke the fears of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, led undoubtedly to bigger freedom of expression. However, any kind of protest is suffocated, with more or less violence.
(ANSAmed). 2007-01-26 15:33 

(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, JANUARY 26 - 'Intellectual property rights and development, from cultural diversity to social prosperity', is the theme of an Arab conference on intellectual property rights (IPR) which begins in Cairo tomorrow. The two-day gathering is organised by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in cooperation with the Arab Publishers Union. WIPO, based in Geneva, Switzerland, is a specialised agency of the United Nations dedicated to developing a balanced and accessible international intellectual property system, which rewards creativity, stimulates innovation and contributes to economic development while safeguarding the public interest. The WIPO convention was established in 1967 with a mandate from its member states to promote the protection of IPR throughout the world through cooperation among states and in collaboration with other international organisations.
(ANSAmed). 2007-01-26 11:18

(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, JANUARY 25 - Orientalism came under fire at one of the first round tables of the rich programme of Italy, guest of honour at the 39th Cairo International Book Fair, which opened to the public in the Egyptian capital today. "Is there still a role for Orientalism?" was the question addressed, quite differently, by Hassan Hanafi, professor in philosophy at the Cairo University, Antonino Pellitteri, professor in History of Islamic countries at the University of Palermo, Alaa Al Aswany, author of the best selling "The Yacoubian Building" and Michele Capasso, president of the Mediterranean Foundation Laboratory. Capasso accused Orientalism of "being responsible for having confused the ideas and led to misunderstandings" and criticised the orientalists who "isolated in their shell, in their cage, lose sight of the speed with which the world walks." Pellitteri answered him with a curt: "I am an orientalist and I am proud of being such." According to the Sicilian professor there is not only one Orientalism, but many different forms, and the question is much more complicated than false simplifications. There is a colonial Orientalism, but there is also the wise Orientalism, that of the Encyclopaedia of Islam which be a good reference for those who want to speak of the subject. Pellitteri spoke of the oriental despotism, of the ethnic sense of History, of Arabism in anti-Turkish function, but also of Leoni Caetani and his work, of the beginning of the last century, fundamentally to know the Arab world. "I don't want to praise Orientalism, I know well it has been a colonial instrument... but there are more Orientalisms," the professor concluded. Capasso, denying the existence of any "shock of civilisations", denounced the "shock of ignorance": the Arab world knows about 70% of the Western world, while the West knows about 3% of Islam's world. More traditions, even "simple" material, such as cartoons or manuals, are needed in order to fill in the gap. Hanafi underlined that the Islamic world feels under "a second attack" and suffers "apartheid". Putting his author's cap on, Aswany said that literature does not know religions or ethnicity. For his part, Italy's Ambassador to Cairo, Antonio Badini, said that despite being good orientalists, orientalism as such has to be redefined. The questions included one which was directed to Italy in particular: How ever has it never managed to politically use the omnipresente "Italophilia" which exists in the Arab world?
There was no answer, however. (ANSAmed). 2007-01-25 19:33

By Barbara Alighiero (ANSAmed) - CAIRO, JANUARY 25 - He loved and still loves the Beatles, is married to an English woman, studied in Britain and the U.S. and is currently probably the Arab World's most critical secular voice against the "prejudices and preconceptions" of the West. Galal Amin, author of 30 books in Arabic and English, is one of the controversial participants in the 39th edition of the Cairo International Book Fair, which opened on Tuesday. 'The Illusion of the Progress in the Arab World' is the latest work of the famous economist, professor at the American University of Cairo. The book's title speaks for itself: believing that history is a constant, unstoppable movement towards the better, or that the future will necessarily be better than the past, is an illusion. And trying to impose western concepts on the Arab World on this basis is wrong and counterproductive. "I trigger many disputes, but no one has so far issued a fatwa (religious decree) against me," the professor said with a hearty smile in his villa in Mahdi, a residential area with alleys shaded by blooming but still neglected trees. The chaos of the big city seems very distant. The 60-something Amin is critical of everything, towards the imposing of human rights whose values must be Western by default, and a democracy that is denouncing its decadence even in the West itself. "It is an ill civilisation and this is obvious." He despises technology that results only in consumerism, condemns capitalism and the privatisations carried out by Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif's government. But most of all he criticises the Arab intellectuals' sense of inferiority compared to the people of the West. From an economic point of view, Amin disagrees especially with the reports of the international organisations which were "only figures that do no take into account other factors". Reports such as the one of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) from 2005, which denounced the lack of democracy and freedom in the Arab World. According to Amin, terrorism is a word invented by the West in an attempt to find new, abstract enemies after the fall of communism. The clash between civilisations is another invention of the West.
(ANSAmed). 2007-01-25 15:52

By Salwa Salem (ANSAmed) - CAIRO, JANUARY 23 - Five years after the publication of his bestselling "The Yacoubian Building", Alaa al Aswani returns to bookstores with his new novel "Chicago", which once again attacks religious, sexual and political taboos via the story of the life of Egyptian professors and scholarship holders in U.S. universities. "Chicago" is an open criticism of President Hosni Mubarak's regime and will be presented at the Cairo International Book Fair, which starts tomorrow in the presence of Mubarak. In contrast to his previous novel, rejected by many publishing houses and which the author had to finance with his own money for publication, "Chicago" was released by the most important Arab publishing house 'Al Shorouk', which reportedly paid the highest ever sum to an Egyptian author. Just like in "The Yacoubian Building", published in Italy last year by Feltrinelli, 'Chicago' is based on the author's personal experience during his PhD studies in medicine in the American city. Aswani sets the plot in the period after the September 11, 2001 attacks in an attempt to describe the raging Islamophobia in the U.S. The novel levels criticism at the "stupidity" of George W. Bush's administration, but also condemns Mubarak and the police state Egypt has become. Young women in veils, persecutions of Copts, political opportunists, dissidents and protesters, but also Egyptian emigrants lost in the confusion between Western and Eastern values fill the pages of the novel, which is develops by alternating dramatic irony and suspense. The main character, Naguib Abdel, has been refused a prestigious position at the University of Cairo because he opposes the regime. His best friend is a brilliant surgeon also banned from teaching at the faculty due to the fact that he is a Copt. However, despite his secularity, Abdel cannot overcome the decades of hatred and hostility and preserve ideal relations with a young American Jewish girl, Windy, who will ultimately leave him. "We belong to two different worlds, I am of the enemies of your country, even if you love me, you will never forget I am Jewish," she declares. This is yet another sad-end love story that describes the advance of political Islam in a predominantly secular society. The book will be soon translated in French and English and the producers of "The Yacoubian Building¿" film have already purchased the film rights to Aswanìs new tale.
(ANSAmed). 2007-01-23 12:39

(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, JANUARY 23 - Cairo International Book Fair, which opened today in the Egyptian capital, has for the first time in its almost 40-year-history a pavilion dedicated to publications on human rights by non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The National Association of Human Rights (NAHR) said that this was an excellent opportunity to circulate the published materials, mainly researches, and have direct contact with the public. So far six out of about fifty NGOs in Egypt have joined the initiative, Gamal Manaa from Human Rights Information told ANSAmed.
(ANSAmed). 2007-01-23 11:51

(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, JANUARY 23 - With a visit to the pavilion of Italy, guest of honour country, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak opened today the 39th edition of the Cairo International Book Fair, the major sector event in the Arab world. The fair, which will be open to public from Thursday until February 4, will host participants from 26 countries and 667 publishers, with 400 seminars and meetings on the relations between different cultures, the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and the role of civil society. The Italian participation envisages a cultural programme including exhibitions, meetings and performances as well as two exhibition spaces where forty Italian publishing houses will show and sell their books and available editions translated in Arabic. A number of round tables, focused on the comparison, exchange and influence on relations between the Mediterranean shores from a cultural, political and economic point of view will take place.
(ANSAmed). 2007-01-23 11:39

(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, JANUARY 23 - On the occasion of Cairo International Book Fair, which opens today in the Egyptian capital with Italy as guest of honour, the Italian government has given to Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak a numbered anastatic copy of a poetry anthology from the 9th century. The anthology, composed of works by Arab writer Ibn Dawoud al Asfahani, includes poems reflecting the exchange between the Islamic and Christian worlds at the time. The original text is kept in the Arab section of the Turin Royal Library.
(ANSAmed). 2007-01-23 10:41

(ANSAmed) - ROME, JANUARY 22 - To herald its participation in the Cairo Book Fair, the Region of Lazio presents a selected exhibition of Lazio publishing, a thematic screening on the culture in the territory and free gifts for the visitors of the Italian Pavilion of cards capturing the artistic influence and landscape of the region. For Lazio, the representative images of jewels portray the beach of Chiaia di Luna, at the Island of Ponza, and a sight of the excavations in Ostia Antica. Apart from the exhibition of publications on the Lazio cultural landscape, Lazio has an appointment with the public of the Fair on Saturday, January 27, at 1700 in Hall 3 of the Italian Pavilion for the screening of the video 'Regione Lazio, tra innovazione e traditione' (Lazio Region, Between Innovation and Tradition). "It is an important showcase for Lazio publishers which are presented to the international public with a selection of books on tourism, archaeology and regional culture," Laziòs councillor for small and medium-sized enterprises, trade and craftsmanship Francesco De Angelis said. "The Cairo Fair is, in fact, the main African event of all."(ANSAmed).
2007-01-22 19:38

(ANSAmed) - BARI, JANUARY 22 - The Apulia Region will be presented at the Cairo Book Fair on January 25 at 5pm local time in Hall 3 of the Italian pavilion with the video 'Apulia, Infinite Treasures'. The Institute of the Mediterranean Cultures of the Province of Lecce will present the activity of the Mediterranean Library created at the institute in Martignano, including a collaboration agreement with the library La Penna Palestinese in Jerusalem signed recently with poet Hanna Awad during her visit to Lecce. Another important initiative of the institute is the translation in Italian of the accounts of Arab travellers including Moroccan Ibn Battuta, Egyptian Rifa A Rafi Thatawi and Lebanese Ahmad Faris Shidyaq. The initiative is a result of the collaboration between the Arab language and literature department of the universities of Lecce and Palermo and the Lecce-based Argo publishing house.
(ANSAmed). 2007-01-22 18:58

(ANSAmed) - TURIN, JANUARY 22 - Not only a selection of the most interesting regional publishing and publications narrating in words and images the artistic attractions of the territory, but also a moment to meet the public with a recital. This is the presentation of the Piedmont Region at the Book Fair of the Arab world, running from January 23 to February 4 in Cairo. Piedmont is one of the five Italian regions to take part in the event, in which Italy is the guest of honour. There will be publications on the regional cultural landscape and a double event on January 28. The event will begin with an unedited recital, between words and notes, starring Mimmo Locasciulli singing the poetry of Leonard Cohen. That event will be followed by a meeting of two leading figures on the cultural scenes in Italy and Egypt: Turin International Book Fair director and writer Ernesto Ferrero and renowned Egyptian narrator Gamal Al Ghitani. 'Mother Tongue' is the theme of the dialogue. The exhibition and events will be accompanied by a classic souvenir for visitors: in the 'postcards from Italy' pack, Piedmont showcases two significant images depicting fascinating sceneries: the 'Galleria di Diana' of Reggia di Venaria, which will re-open to the public in September this year and which is part of a vast Baroque complex at the gates of Turin, subject of the biggest European construction works to restore a historic artistic heritage; and a hall of the Castello di Rivoli (Turin), which houses the Museum of Contemporary Art.
(ANSAmed). 2007-01-22 18:31

(ANSAmed) - NAPLES, JANUARY 22 - The Campania Region will gift 500 books published in Campania by the Italian Cultural Institute of Cairo at the end of the International Book Fair. The Region's delegation consists of 52 publishers from the provinces of Naples, Salerno, Caserta, Avellino and Benevento. It is the first participation of the Campania Region in the Egyptian fair, which has with time become one of the most important international cultural events, both for the number of publishers present and for the number of visitors. This year Italy is the guest of honour. The presence of the Campania Region in Cairo aims to promote and boost the cultural exchange with the Arab world in general, and with Mediterranean countries in particular. The documentary 'Campania, una terra alla luce del sole' (Campania, a land in the light of the sun) will be screened on January 25 in the Italian Pavilion as part of the event 'Italian Cultural Landscape'. Other initiatives will unfold in the following days curated by the Museums and Libraries Sector of the Culture department of the region.
(ANSAmed). 2007-01-22 17:27

(ANSAmed) - ROME, JANUARY 22 - Occasions such as the Frankfurt Book Fair (also known as Buchmesse), which in 2002 featured Arabs as guests of honour, are always welcome. And now the Arab world's biggest book fair, in Cairo from January 23 until February 4, will have Italy as guest of honour at its 39th edition. "This is because, despite 9/11, our knowledge of the Arab world improved a little in these years, but it remains too loaded with stereotypes and generalisations and, above all," says Isabella Camera D'Afflitto, a university professor in Arab literature at the Istituto Orientale in Naples. "The Cairo Book Fair has the advantage of being a situation opposite to that in Frankfurt: while in 2002 the Arabs were the ones who presented and sought contacts, now we are the ones, invited to go and know and discover them on the spot," explains Camera D'Afflitto, one of the most active people in Italy in creating exchange and translations between the two worlds - to the point that she will be the first Italian to receive the International Award for Translation at the Egyptian Fair. "In Cairo, one realises that it is a big metropolis and that there is a little of all that exoticism which limits our perspective. The many meetings scheduled between Italian and Arab writers will show the quality and calibre of their great intellectual, quite removed from the fundamentalist voices which often seem to be the only ones heard in our world," the scholar adds. Not to forget, however, that "also in the Arab world, little is done to really know our culture, and the debate there is in the West and on both sides, and those who do act to something for reciprocal understanding are mainly private and small publishing houses." In Italy, the main movers and and shakers in this sense are including Jouvance, which has reached 40 titles, Lavoro, E/O, Ilisso and some others. The big publishers almost never translate from Arabic, but use French or English translations. "Or perhaps Arabs who write in those languages and are successful in the West, such as Tahar Ben Jelloun, who is practically unknown in Egypt." "Great attention is paid to European and Italian literature in Egypt and in Arab countries much has been translated for quite a long time: French and Russian 19th century classics are successful, for example, but our contemporary writers are also known. Pirandello is published and read but none of use knows early 20th century great Arab playwright Tawfik Al Hakim. The most loved among the Italians is perhaps Buzzati, especially with his 'Deserto dei tartari' (The Desert of the Tartar), then come Calvino, Tabucchi and also Moravia." The author of 'La Noia' (The Empty Canvas), for example, would seem provocative in a world the way we imagine it ¿ dominated only by the most conservative extremism. "But the reality is totally different. Just think of the success which Al Aswany's 'Yacoubian Building' had in Egypt before worldwide fame, even if it touches upon delicate issues, starting with homosexuality, which if the topic of the book. Many other such novels in Arabic are circulating," concludes Camera D'Afflitto who hopes that "Italy manages to seize and use the occasion offered by this year¿s Cairo Book Fair, for which our diplomacy has worked so hard and so well."
2007-01-22 16:41

(ANSAmed) - ROME, JANUARY 22 - Since the early 1990s until today there are many stories and poetry in Italian published in Italy by authors of foreign origin. Now the anthology "Nuovo planetario italiano" (New Italian World) offers works by 53 authors from different geographic areas who live and write in Italy. There was a need for "comprehensive and useful reflection on everything that happened in Italy in these years", the curator of the anthology, university teacher Armando Gnisci, told Repubblicàs weekly Metropoli. The first two books written by African immigrants together with Italian journalists date back to 1990, since then the literature of immigration has flourished thanks also to the numerous literary competitions. The publication in 2006 of two other collections, both of them related to literary competitions, 'Linguamadre Duemilasei' (by Seb 27) and 'In Madrelingua' (by Traccediverse), is another demonstration of the vivacity of immigrant literature.
(ANSAmed). 2007-01-22

(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, JANUARY 22 - Created in 1969, Cairo International Book Fair today attracts between 1.5 million and 2.5 million visitors, not all bookworms but including sector professionals, the plain curious and families who find among the pavilions a rare occasion to make a trip to Egypt's sprawling, polluted capital. The event remains the most important book fair in the Arab world. A total 650 publishers from 35 countries will exhibit their production at the 39th edition this year, from January 23 until February 4, with Italy the guest of honour. "We have 60 publishers more compared to last year," said Wahid Abdel Meguid, vice-chairman of the General Egyptian Book Organization, the government institution which created the fair almost four decades ago, "pushed by the need to fill the gap between Arab and western societies." Last year the Fair was visited by 1.5 million people, 25% less compared to 2005. But according to the Culture Ministry, the drop was due to the fact that the half-year school exams coincided with the event. "In any case, it remains the most important fair in the Middle East and the second after the one held in Frankfurt," Meguid said. The Fair has become with time an important moment of cultural exchange. This year one of the themes at the centre of debate will be the conflict between Islam and the west. In a tribute to Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz, who died last year, the fair will feature seminars devoted to his work ¿in Arabic and in 40 translated languages - attended by literary critics and specialists. The first Egyptian edition of 'Awlad Haratina' (Children of the Alley) will also be at the fair. The novel was published in excerpts in the 'al Ahram' daily in 1959 and 1960 before it was banned for years for blasphemy. The book, published at the time in Lebanon and edited in various languages, was published in Egypt only after the death of the author (it is unclear whether in the past few years he himself opposed the publication). The book is already a best seller. The star of the 2007 edition will be Turkish writer and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk, who will participate in a seminar on his life and works on January 25. The Egyptian Book Organization has won the rights to translate in Arabic several books of Pamuk. All foreign books which will be presented at the Fair will be scrutinised by the the Information Ministry, but last year the Organization and the ministry reached an agreement not to ban any text, Meguid said. Some 10,000 new titles were published in Egypt in 2006, 25% of which touched upon a religious theme, 17% on a literary theme and 10% relating to science. "Generally the most read books are the religious ones, while the translations are directed only to the elite," Meguid said.
(ANSAmed). 2007-01-22 16:11

(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, JANUARY 19 - Created in 1969, Cairo International Book Fair today attracts between 1.5 million and 2.5 million visitors, not all bookworms but including sector professionals, the plain curious and families who find among the pavilions a rare occasion to make a trip to Egypt's sprawling, polluted capital. The event remains the most important book fair in the Arab world. A total 650 publishers from 35 countries will exhibit their production at the 39th edition this year from January 23 until February 4, with Italy the guest of honour. "We have 60 publishers more compared to last year," said Wahid Abdel Meguid, vice-chairman of the General Egyptian Book Organization, the government institution which created the fair almost four decades ago, "pushed by the need to fill the gap between Arab and western societies." Last year the Fair was visited by 1.5 million people, 25% less compared to 2005. But according to the Culture Ministry, the drop was due to the fact that the half-year school exams coincided with the event. "In any case, it remains the most important fair in the Middle East and the second after the one held in Frankfurt," Meguid said. The Fair has become with time an important moment of cultural exchange. This year one of the themes at the centre of debate will be the conflict between Islam and the west. In a tribute to Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz, who died last year, the fair will feature seminars devoted to his work - in Arabic and in 40 translated languages - attended by literary critics and specialists . The first Egyptian edition of 'Awlad Haratina' (Children of the Alley) will also be at the fair. The novel was published in excerpts in the 'al Ahram' daily in 1959 and 1960 before it was banned for years for blasphemy. The book, published at the time in Lebanon and edited in various languages, was published in Egypt only after the death of the author (it is unclear whether in the past few years he himself opposed the publication). The book is already a best seller. The star of the 2007 edition will be Turkish writer and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk, who will participate in a seminar on his life and works on January 25. The Egyptian Book Organization has won the rights to translate in Arabic several books of Pamuk. All foreign books which will be presented at the Fair will be scrutinised by the the Information Ministry, but last year the Organization and the ministry reached an agreement not to ban any text, Meguid said. Some 10,000 new titles were published in Egypt in 2006, 25% of which touched upon a religious theme, 17% on a literary theme and 10% relating to science. "Generally the most read books are the religious ones, while the translations are directed only to the elite," Meguid said.
(ANSAmed). 2007-01-19 20:09

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