Arabic Literature in Translation Seminar in New York follows Sharjah’s New Orleans Library Association presence. The Arab Renaissance gets into second gear

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA) will be running a seminar at the New York Public Library tomorrow as the next stage of the Arab Renaissance unfolds.

The seminar is to introduce the recently launched Translation Fund, which looks to support Arabic literature reaching the English, French and German language markets.

Juergen Boos, President of the Frankfurt International Book Fair, will deliver a welcome speech in the presence of Majid Al Suwaidi, UAE’s Consul-General in New York, reports the Emirates News Agency, while Abdullah Majed Al Ali, Acting Executive Director of the National Library Sector at the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism will share details of the SZBA translation fund.

The event will also include a panel discussion which will feature John Siciliano, Executive Editor of Penguin Classics (and translator of Ahmad Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad, the first Arabic novel to reach the finals in the Man Booker International Prize), Chip Rosetti, Managing Editor, Library of Arabic Literature, NYU Press, Alexander Elinson, Associate Professor from Hunter College, and Max Weiss, Associate Professor at Princeton University.

Mouza Al Shamsi, Director of the SZBA, said,

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award strives to raise the profile of Arabic literature in other cultures by encouraging dialogue and networking with various cultural and academic institutions interested in learning about the latest literary trends in the Arab world.

The SZBA seminar follows hard on the heels of an initiative by the Sharjah Book Authority, which held a series of high-level meetings and activities at the American Library Association Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans last month to discuss the latest developments and challenges in the library sector.

Ahmed Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, organised a range of meetings with senior library representatives and management experts from around the world to discuss collaborations, partnerships and cooperation opportunities.

Through our participation at these major conferences and exhibitions we aim to underline the importance of books and libraries in terms of a service to the public, a source of knowledge for intellectuals, a learning place for students and much, much more.

Ultimately, libraries provide affordable access to books and enrich communication, extending bridges between different civilisations and culture. Our participation in these events is not limited to short-term agreements and arrangements, it is also a chance for overseas organisations to understand the essential role Sharjah plays as a cultural hub across the region and the greater Arab world.

The delegation also addressed the major themes on the agenda for the 4th edition of the SIBF/ALA Library Conference, which will take place from 6-8 November as part of the 2018 Sharjah International Book Fair.

Seen in isolation these engagements by the Arab world with western publishing, and the talk of Sharjah as a cultural hub, are small ripples on the global publishing waters.

But if we step back to see the bigger picture (for example Bodour Qasimi at the Lagos IPA Conference –

“The future of global publishing lies in the emerging markets” – Sheikha Bodour al Qasimi

or Sharjah’s engagement with the Brazilian book fair scene –

São Paulo International Book Biennial sells 100,000 tickets in advance. Sharjah guest of honour

to name two of many. the reality is a seismic shift in the balance of power in global publishing as New York’s historical role as the centre of global publishing is eclipsed by Frankfurt in Europe, Beijing in Asia and, yes, Sharjah in the Middle East, each emerging not just pivotal player in their own right in their own countries, but straddling the global market and filling the void left as New York descends into parochialism.

New York eclipsed as the centre of global publishing gravity shifts inexorably east. The Hot Sheet reviewed

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