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Friday, September 17, 2021

UK literature to take center stage at this year’s International Book Fair

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book fair

The UK will be “guest of honor” at this year’s Doha International Book Fair, which runs from Dec. 4 until Dec. 14 at the Doha International Exhibition Center near Katara Cultural Village.

The fair, which opens to the public on Thursday, runs from 9am to 1pm, and from 4pm-10pm. On Fridays, the exhibition center will only be open in the afternoons.

The theme ties into the Qatar UK 2013 year of culture, and as part of the tie-up, will include a particular focus on children’s literature. Storytelling sessions for children in both Arabic and English will feature perennial favorite The Gruffalo, The Selfish Crocodile by Faustin Charles and Michael Terry, and a selection of books from the new WHSmith store in Doha.

There will also be screenings of the musical film “Oliver!” with Arabic subtitles, and sessions to help Arabic-speaking children improve their English.

The UK will also place an emphasis on translation skills, with a special conference, The Literary Translation Summit, being held alongside the fair.

Members of the public will be able to hear about the difficulties faced when translating Shakespeare, during a panel discussion given by Patrick Spottiswoode, Director of Education at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, and translator Niels Brunse.

There will also be a session with Abdulaziz Al Mahmoud,  the Qatari author of historical novel The Corsair – recently published in English – who will discuss his work with regional history expert Dr. Abdullah Baabood.

Details of the full event program can be found here.

English-language books

This is not the first year a country has been featured at the fair. Last year’s “guest of honor” was Japan, and Iran took the spotlight in 2011.

In previous years, there have been complaints about a dearth of English-language books at the fair. For example, last year’s fair hosted 419 publishers from 27 countries, but the majority of these only sold books in Arabic. In 2011, there were 30,000 books on sale, but only around 3,000 of these were in English.

This year, the fair will feature 22,000 books from 29 countries around the world.

Given the UK’s involvement in this year’s fair, it’s to be hoped that there will be more English language books on sale than ever before.

There’s certainly a growing market in Qatar – according to the Publishers Association, UK book exports to this country last year totaled $7.6 million (QR17m), an increase of 21 percent from the previous year.

Do you plan to check the fair out? Thoughts?

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