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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.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cairo Book Fair -- or Cairo Blook Fair?

Marwa Rakha at Global Voices highlights a trend at the Cairo Book Fair, quoting a post from blogger Mohamed Hamdy highlighting the 15+ titles by bloggers available at the Fair, supported by CBF's first-ever seminar to discuss the growing phenomenon of bloggers getting published. The seminar is organized by the renowned writer Youssef Al Ka'eed and bloggers Ghada Abdel Aal, Shady Aslan, and Mayada Medhat. This is definitely a particularly Egyptian phenomenon, of bloggers publishing *novels* based on blogs, as opposed to essayistic or memoiristic texts...

__Updated 28/01/09__

Marwa Rakha posts more news: traditional writers have called these Egyptian blooks "Kleenex" (because they see them as over-intimate and disposable, I guess). Blogger Ahmed Al Sabbagh hits back with a link to Ghada Abdel Aal's video, where she quotes Tawfiq El-Hakim describing the essence of real literature:
It is the open air literature; the literary expression of freedom and passion; words that reach out from one heart to another exposing the depth of the human psyche in freedom, honesty, and sincerity. Tawfiq El-Hakim also said that our share of such kind of literature is minimal just as much as our share of honesty and openness is minimal - This is exactly what we as bloggers do.

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