Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA) organised a panel discussion entitled ‘Arabic Literature Today’ as part of its participation in the London Book Fair.
The talk, featuring Mouza Al Shamsi, Director of SZBA, Porter Anderson, former CNN journalist and Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives, and Lebanese publisher Nasser Jarrous, saw a large turnout of publishers, authors and translators at the the Department of Culture and Tourism- Abu Dhabi exhibition stand at London Book Fair on Wednesday 13th, March 2019.
The discussion opened with publisher Jarrous presenting an overview of contemporary Arabic literature, which is characterised by an exploration into the differing views and aspirations of the younger generation and an impulse to break free from stereotypical thinking and outdated concepts. He also commended the Award for providing a platform to empower authors and scholars in developing intellectual and creative contributions to the Arabic literary canon.
Jarrous said: “Nowadays, Arab writers need to be encouraged and given the opportunity to demonstrate their talents through initiatives such as the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, especially with the urgent need to ensure their rights are protected, whether by publishers or others in the publishing industry. Arab publishers are currently suffering a severe financial crisis, especially Lebanese publishers.”
SZBA Director Al Shamsi provided the audience with background on the Award and a detailed account of translation funding available for the winning tiles “Thirteen years after its inception, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award continues to enjoy its position as the leading literary prize in the Arab World,” she said. “Whether you are a novelist, translator, publisher or a young scholar, from any nationality or background, the Award offers a platform to honour your achievements, recognising works in the fields of development, authorship and translation of humanities.
“The Award does not only recognise major literary and cultural achievements, but also aims to boost the publishing industry, playing its part in enriching Arab culture with fresh works. Our winners offer some of the most exciting and, in some cases, challenging new cultural works. All this led us to launch Translation Funding last year, for the first time in the Award’s history, to help produce more quality Arabic books that are translated, published and distributed outside the Arab World.”
During the panel, Editor and journalist Anderson explored the impact of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award on the popularity of winning titles. In response, Jarrous said: “SZBA provides creative Arab minds with the opportunity to better introduce themselves to readers. Many of these works would have remained unknown if not for the Award and its efforts to disseminate them to the widest possible regional and international audiences.”