Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Casablanca Book Fair 2012

Despite the fact that writers and publishers are going through a period of crisis in the publishing industry, this year's Casablanca Book Fair is attracting a lot of attention. According to the Office of Fairs and Exhibitions in Casablanca there are around 750 exhibitors are taking part.

The upsurge in electronic publishing and the notion that self-publishing is no longer considered shameful has come at a time when the financial crisis has hit publishers hard. One publisher described the situation to The View from Fez as "nervous", while a New York literary agent responded that, "unless you were J K Rowling or Dan Brown then forget it. Publishers are not in the mood to take risks". Tough times indeed.

Yet, this 18th edition of the Salon international de l’édition et du livre (SIEL), to give the book fair in Casa its correct title, is a world away from the doom, gloom and piles of remaindered books elsewhere. There is however, a strong presence of literary institutions rather than publishers hungry for the latest work from a Moroccan author.

SIEL (Salon international de l’édition et du livre)
Book Fair in Casablanca
This year’s fair has a strong European influence with the presence of a number of European institutions congregated under the unfortunate acronym EUNIC .which stands for European Union National Institutes for Culture. The main players are Germany's Goethe-Institute, the British Council from Great Britain, Portugal's Instituto Camões and the Istituto Italiano di Cultura from Italy.

Interestingly, the British Council will also be focusing attention on Arab literature, with readings from Plays from the Arab World featuring two promising Moroccan playwrights Jaouad Essounani and Kamal Khalladi. The two writers works were showcased back in 2008 at Britain's Royal Court Theatre.

Another major player this ear is the Saudi contingent with a pavilion which spans 430 sq. meters and hosts about 2000 titles in several disciplines. The pavilion also has a lecture room and a stand offering book sales. There will be also a reading place for children in addition to media aids. Also hosted at this year participation is a mini-scale model of Saudi's two holy mosques and a documentary film on the architecture of these shrines. The Saudi's are this year's guest of honour at the fair.

On Thursday, Laila Lalami, the author of two of our favourite books by Moroccans - Secret Son and Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits - will be taking part in Ecrits d’Amérique at the CCME stand in the Salon du Livre (Rue Tiznit) at around 5:40 PM. Laila says she will also be doing book signings at the Dar America booth at 3.30pm.

Between 3 and 4 pm on Saturday the 18th the Portugese Instituto Camoes will offer its visitors autographs by the famous writer Goncalo M. Tavares, with the presence of his Arabic translator Said Ben Abdlouahed and the editor Mr. Hozal.


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