The Middle Eastern region, and the Arab world in particular, lead the way in the number of awards swept up at a prestigious international book fair last night, claiming three awards for international excellence in the publishing industry.
The three day London Book Fair kicked off yesterday, with an awards ceremony held in the evening to recognise achievements and international excellence in the books and publishing sector. The winners from the Arab world were from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Cairo-based blogger Marcia Lynx Qualey won the Literary Translation Initiative Award for her “strong personal dedication to creating cross-cultural understanding in the diverse world of Arabic literature.”
Qualey runs the “Arabic Literature (In English)” blog, that presents and discusses Arabic literature in English for interested readers.
The second major award claimed by an Arabia-based personality was taken by Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Qasimi, the Ruler of the Emirate of Sharjah and a member of the Supreme Council of the UAE. The Arab ruler won an international award “for his outstanding contribution to the publishing industry in the UAE.”
Under Al-Qasimi’s direction, Sharjah is known for financing and supporting the publishing sector, and encouraging authors and writers to produce more works of literature, both fiction and non-fiction alike.
Finally, Turkey had a good night with Nermin Mollaoglu of the Kalem Agency winning the Literary Agent Award because “she has in one decade become a second bridge to the outside world for her writers at a point in Turkish history when this connection is more crucial than ever, and harder than ever to achieve.”
The Kalem Agency is an Istanbul-based literary agency that publishes and disseminates Turkish literature in 36 languages around the world, while founding and organising Turkey’s only literary festival.
Once known for its production of world-leading literature and scientific publications, the Middle East has faced stagnation and decline over the past few centuries. Winning these awards, however, may indicate the beginning of a revival in the Middle East’s ability to produce globally relevant and consumed literary works.