Al-Diwan Roundup: News and Analysis from Publishing

Posted on May 28, 2020 by Tadween Editors | 0 comments

Al-Diwan brings you the latest news and analysis from the publishing world that relate to pedagogy and knowledge production on and from the Middle East.



On The Zoom Launch of Noor Naga’s ‘Washes, Prays,’ ‘With All the Weirdness’ Left In
By Phoebe Bay Carter

In an interview with author and self-described mistaken local everywhere she goes, Carter covers the newly released Washes, Prays by Noor Naga. Nouf and Coocoo in Naga’s poem-esque novel experience young adult life in Canada coming from Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Naga conveys her experience as a constant outsider through the lives of the girls, intentionally sidestepping the replication of what she refers to as “‘that two-dimensional tug-o-war’ between West and East or home culture and foreign culture.”

A New Global Association of Literary Festivals Officially Launches
By Porter Anderson (Publishing Perspectives)

From Nigeria to Thailand, from the UK to Jamaica, from the UAE to the US, literary festival boards have come together to share skills and challenges to navigate moving their events from in-person to virtual platforms in light of the pandemic. A founding member of the Emirates Literary Foundation discusses resultant financial challenges stating “we [rely] on the generosity of sponsors and ticket and book sales” but like others are determined to stay afloat for the love of books, people, and learning.

IPA and Dubai Cares Announce Aid for African Remote Learning Efforts 
By Porter Anderson (Publishing Perspectives)

The International Publishers Association (IPA) has partnered with Dubai Cares to “ensur[e] equitable access to distance learning” in African countries hit hard by COVID-19. IPA vice-president Bodour Al Qasimi will be joined by senior publishing leaders from Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Tunisia, and Kenya among other countries to select this year’s grantees through the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund.

Sheikh Zayed Book Award Honors Authors in a Virtual Event
By Tarek Abd El-Galil (Al-Fanar Media)

This year about two thousand works from writers in forty-nine countries were nominated; prizes go to creators around the world for contributions to the advancement of Arabic literature and culture across nine different categories. The award ceremony did not remain untouched by the recent pandemic: “Culture is the permanent meeting place that no crisis or pandemic can deprive humanity of,” said Ali bin Tamim, secretary general of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award. 

Arab Artists Respond to a World Disrupted by Covid-19
By Heba Elkayal (Al-Fanar Media)

Galleries, museums, and festivals are closing IRL and opening online. Despite the difficulty and disappointment at cancelled exhibit openings and book tours, Cairo-based artist Nourhan Maayouf thinks the pandemic serves as “a moment of reckoning” of sorts for the art world with events that usually require travel and paid entry now available to anyone interested.

Arabic Publishing and the Covid-19 Pandemic
By M. Lynx Qualey

In a Publishers Without Borders panel held in early May, publishing experts from around the world came together to discuss the issues facing publishers from Morocco to the Gulf during pandemic. The mass cancellation of book fairs and bookstores has caused major financial setbacks, but Ahmed Al Ali, Managing Editor of Emirati publisher Rewayat Books, says that the pandemic has given publishers in Arab countries a push to ignite the ebook business.

Trump Administration Would ‘Eviscerate’ Copyright, Say Industry Players
By Porter Anderson (Publishing Perspectives)

COVID-19 response from the Trump Administration threatens to erode intellectual property. After the Office of Science and Technology Policy was called on by the administration to openly release its findings, leaders in organizations ranging from the Association of American Publishers to the Heritage Foundation pushed back by releasing statements.

‘I Don’t Trust My University.’ Readers Share Their Fears of Returning to Campus in the Fall.
By Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

The Chronicle conducted a survey to gauge student and staff sentiments on universities’ plans to re-open in-person learning in the fall. Over 300 people responded anonymously and though non-scientific data collection, the responses shed light on the lack of confidence some students and staff members feel in universities’ ability to protect them from the virus.

New to Watch: Online Video Discussion with Algerian Writers
By Anissa Daoudi (ArabLit Quarterly)

University of Birmingham lecturer Anissa Daoudi has begun a series of book talks with Algerian writers on 1990s Algeria otherwise known as “the black decade.” Daoudi began the series to give her students access to current prominent Algerian scholars, challenge accepted historical narratives of the black decade, and expose the Anglophone world to Algerian literature, continuing the spirit of the February hirak.

‘Naguib Mahfouz Awards’ to Reem Bassiouney, Mohamed Abdellatif 
By ArabLit Quarterly [no author indicated, links to the pieces themselves]

On May 7th, Egypt’s Supreme Council for Culture announced the 2020 winners of the Naguib Mahfouz Award. “Best Egyptian Novel” went to Reem Bassiouney for Welad el-Nass (or The Mamluk Trilogy) and “Best Arabic Novel” went to Mohammed Abdellatif for Kitab al-Rada (Book of Apostasy).

5 International & Arabic Literary Events Going Online in 2020
By ArabLit Quarterly

Look no further for upcoming online international or Arab-focused literary festivals this summer.

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