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Everything you need to know about the world's great writers and emerging voices is being collected and shared on the English PEN Online World Atlas. Head over to the Atlas to create (or edit) a profile for your favourite author or book, leave a comment or contact another user, and discover your next great read. We believe that great writing has the power to change your life and change the world, one book at a time.

The Atlas is proud to be partnering with the Hay Festival's Beirut39 contest, celebrating Beirut's year as UNESCO World Book Capital, to find the hottest authors under 40 of Arabic origin. Nominations are open until August 24th, 2009.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Nobel Art of Blogging

Jose Saramago has started a blog. It's in Portuguese, so if you speak the language it looks like a great way to get the inside scoop on a Nobel Laureate's writing process, particularly as Fernando Mereilles' film adaptation of Saramago's Blindness is released.

Saramago will be welcomed to the litblogging community by writers Ghada Abdel Aal, Marwa Rakha, and Rajaa Alsanea, who are part of a new trend in the Middle East for gossip-girl novels based on blogs. These women writers have successfully used the internet as a forum in which to speak about the inner lives of Arabic women, to dispense advice about marriage, men and education, and have found a following for their work. Where Rakha is a sharp, secular critic, Alsanea writes about balancing halal behaviour and belief with the desire to be an emancipated, educated woman. All three point to the hypocrisies and double standards exploited by men in their societies -- but their powerful critiques are delicately layered inside what seems like Sex and the City fluff.

Perhaps these aren't novels that might win a Nobel prize for Literature, but can the time be far off when a blook wins one of the major literary awards?

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