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53rd Cairo International Book Fair Opens with Greece as Guest of Honour

/ 28 Jan 2022

53rd Cairo International Book Fair Opens with Greece as Guest of Honour

CAIRO—Prominent novelists from across the Arab world are attending this year’s Cairo International Book Fair, which has a Greek focus.

The General Egyptian Book Authority, an arm of the Ministry of Culture, invited a number of celebrated Arab novelists to appear on the fair’s discussion panels. Among them are Lebanon’s Hoda Barakat, Ahmed Al-Madini from Morocco, Amir Taj Al-Sir from Sudan, and the Palestinian writer Rabai Al-Madhoun.

On Wednesday Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly officially opened  the fair’s 53rd edition without a public audience, as a precaution against Covid-19. The fair opened to the public on Thursday and will run until February 7 at the Egypt International Exhibitions Center, in New Cairo.

The current session has resumed cultural events such as discussion panels and book signings, which had to be halted during last year’s fair, which was delayed until June because of the coronavirus.

Vaccination Centre Onsite

“All events will put safety first, while maintaining social distancing and following precautionary measures to confront the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Haitham el-Hag Ali   President of the Cairo International Book Fair and head of the General Egyptian Book Authority

Since the start of the pandemic, Egypt has registered more than 400,000 Covid-19 cases and more than 22,000 coronavirus-related deaths.

Haitham el-Hag Ali, head of the book fair, said: “All events will put safety first, while maintaining social distancing and following precautionary measures to confront the Covid-19 pandemic.”

He added that the Ministry of Health was providing a vaccination centre inside the fair’s premises.

To make attendance easier, the fair’s organising committee decided people did not need to present a vaccination card to enter the exhibition space. But those who plan to attend indoor cultural and artistic events must still present vaccination cards.

The fair also has an online platform to try to attract more visitors.

Greece: The Guest of Honour

Greece is the current edition’s guest of honour. The Greek Pavilion displays books that have won recent State Prizes for Literature and Arabic translations of important Greek titles. Among them are: the novel “Alexandrian Voices on Lepsius Street”, by the Egyptian-Greek writer and translator Persa Koumoutsi; “Why I Killed My Best Friend”, by Amanda Michalopoulou; “The Resurrection of Michael Jackson”, by Dimitris Sotakis; and “The Greeks and the Making of Modern Egypt”, by Alexander Kitroeff.

The pavilion is also host to a special tribute to the late Alexandrian Greek poet Constantine Cavafy (1863–1933), considered one of the greatest Greek poets of the 20th century. Over 50 books about Cavafy in Greek, Arabic, and other languages are on display, along with a presentation of the Cavafy digital archive by the Onassis Foundation.

This year’s fair includes special tributes to the Alexandrian Greek poet Constantine Cavafy (1863–1933) and the Egyptian intellectual Taha Hussein (1889-1973).

The tribute also includes an exhibition of works by contemporary artists inspired by Cavafy, curated by Louisa Karapidaki.

The late Egyptian intellectual Taha Hussein (1889-1973) will also be honoured at another event. Well-known as a writer and sometimes called the “dean of Arabic literature”, Hussein was also the founder of Greek and Roman studies in Egypt and the Arab world.

Personalities of the Year 

The fair’s leadership committee, headed by Egypt’s Minister of Culture Ines Abdel-Dayem, chose the late writer Yahya Haqqi as fair’s personality of the year.

The fair has a separate hall devoted to children’s books and activities. Abdel Tawab Youssef was chosen as personality of the year for the children’s section.

More than 1,000 Egyptian and foreign publishers, bookstores and publishing agencies are participating in this year’s fair. They include nearly 300 publishers from the Arab region.

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A number of cultural initiatives are expected to come from the fair. These include the Ministry of Culture’s “Your Culture is a Book” initiative to provide books that cost no more than 20 Egyptian pounds (about $1.25), and the General Egyptian Book Authority’s “Digital Book” project, which begins with the 16-volume Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt by Selim Hassan (1887-1961).

For the first time in an initiative with the Ministry of Communications’ Egyptian Post Authority, online sales and book delivery services are available within Egypt.

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Copyright © 2018 Al-Fanar Mediaحقوق © 2018 الفنار للإعلام