BEIRUT: Appearances by prestigious authors and literary academies, conferences, entertainment, musical and artistic events are all scheduled as part of the 20th anniversary of the Francophone Book Fair. Taking place at BIEL from Nov. 1-10, this year’s edition has been programmed under the theme of “Les Mots des Autres” (The words of others) and will welcome the famous and renowned Academie Francaise, marked by the presence of such authors as Michael Edwards, Dominique Fernandez and the much-awaited Amin Maalouf.
Maalouf will attend the fair to talk about his novel “Les Desorientes” (The Disoriented) on Nov. 9, an event likely to excite most of his fans, as he is considered a legendary literary figure in Lebanon as well as Europe.
On Nov. 3, the winner of the Liste Goncourt/Choix de L’Orient literary prize will be announced, in the presence of last year’s winner Mathias Enard who will receive – to mark the occasion – his book “Rue des Voleurs” published in Arabic translation.
The theme of this year’s book fair will focus on translations and linguistic exchanges. Two conferences have been scheduled, and several booths will be dedicated to Arabic publishing houses.
The Maison Internationale des Ecrivains a Beyrouth (International House of Writers in Beirut) – founded by Charif Majdalani – will make its program public, along with four other publishing houses.
This year’s fair is welcoming several authors of outstanding prestige. U.S. author Douglas Kennedy will be present, as well as Frenchman Philippe Claudel and Lebanese Alexandre Najjar and Jabbour Douaihy – to name a few.
The literary fair will also feature events targeting youngsters, such as writing workshops organized by the Kitabat association, a play by the students of the Languages and Expressions company and many booths focusing on literature for children, as well as comic books.
Mazen Kerbaj, along with Jul and Armand Homsi, will animate the fair with their drawings of the participants. Kerbaj will also produce a 16-meter-long mural.
It seems that art will play a fairly major role at the fair, with exhibitions on the works of author Aime Cesaire, and old postcards and reproductions of Perthuis’ manuscripts from the Fouad Debbas Collection.
The Lebanese National Conservatory of Music will punctuate the fair with their rhythms, Megerdich Mikaelian will present his flamenco compositions on Nov. 1, and the Beirut Saxophone Quartet will perform Nov. 3. If you’re curious to know more about Les Guitares du Cedre (The Cedar’s Guitars), by contrast, they will be performing their tunes Nov. 7.
In addition to all this, conferences on the improvement of digital books, the making of and addition of new entries in the French dictionary, and the importance and role of comic books will provide a didactic element to the event.
This year’s anniversary edition of the Francophone Book Fair promises to be even more unique than last year’s. Outstanding efforts have been made to communicate a wider vision of francophone culture, through correlations between literature and art, literature and technology, and much more.
The 20th Francophone Book Fair will take place from Nov. 1-10 at BIEL. For more information, visit salondulivrebeyrouth.org.