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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.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Good Reviews & Bad News

The Guardian's Saturday Review showed the range of Arab literature (in English and in translation) being published in the UK with three reviews:

Michael Faber on A Child in Palestine: The Cartoons of Naji al-Ali

Joan Bakewell on Hanan al-Shaykh's The Locust and the Bird: My Mother's Story, which was excerpted in the newspaper's Family section in June.

James Lasdun on Elias Khoury's Yalo, which is a 2009 Recommended by PEN title.

Khoury was supposed to be launching the English translation at the London Review Bookshop as part of the marvellous World Literature Weekend, but Khoury was refused a visa at the last minute. And now two of the Moroccan poets who were due to read at the LRB on Monday night have also had their visa applications refused, despite having invitations from the prestigious Ledbury Festival. As Matthew Bell reports in the Independent on Sunday
It was supposed to be a highlight of the literary summer calendar, but this year's Ledbury Poetry Festival has been ruined by the interference of bossy Home Office bods. Three internationally acclaimed poets, one from Indonesia and two from Morocco, were barred from entering the country on the grounds they might try to outstay their welcome. Dorothea Rosa Herliany, who has published eight volumes of poetry in Indonesia, had her visa application rejected by a Home Office official who said, "I am not satisfied on the balance of probabilities that you are a genuine visitor," despite providing her invitation to the festival. Moroccan poets Hassan Najmi and Widad Benmoussa were also denied entry. Chloe Garner, the festival director, is distraught. "This is hugely embarrassing for the festival," she says. "I feel ashamed that the UK is effectively becoming a fortress."
The LRB, who are co-hosting the event with Banipal Magazine with whom the poets were supposed to be touring the UK, are forging ahead with the even. Francophone poet Siham Bouhlal will be there tomorrow night, as will poet and translator Sinan Antoon. Tickets are available on 020 7269 9030 or events [at] lrbshop.co.uk.

If you are as concerned as PEN and the LRB are about the increasing number of writers and artists being refused visas to the UK, please consider supporting the Manifesto Club's visiting artists and academics campaign.

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