Welcome to a World of Literature

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.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Life or Facebook?

There have been many apocalyptic articles bemoaning the death of sociality/literature/civilisation as we know it due to the advent of the internet, and particularly social networking. But what becomes clear when you spend any time on social networking sites (and I spend way too much time on Facebook) is that many of the groups are dedicated to promoting live events, and can reach an unprecedented audience of potential attendees. Just as Kutub's blog allows you to read along with a bookclub in Dubai, the Facebook groups for Jordan Poetry and Cairo's Diwan Bookstore give a picture of a thriving literary culture that's as much face-to-face as Facebook.

Authors are increasingly savvy about using the internet to reach new readers -- and to shape their reputation. Celebrated Egyptian blogger and writer Marwa Rakha used Facebook to encourage her readers to review her book on Amazon. It sounds like a virtual whirl, but net users are conscious of real-life consequences, whether positive (increased book sales or event attendance, improved transcultural communication) or negative. That one writer, Adnan Okter, could get an injunction to block the website of Turkey's third-largest newspaper demonstrates -- uncomfortably -- the real-life power of the virtual world.

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