UAE publishers withdraw from Frankfurt book fair after cancellation of Palestinian author's award

The prize was meant to be presented to Adania Shibli, whose novel 'Minor Detail' tells the story of the 1949 rape and murder of a Palestinian Bedouin girl by Israeli soldiers

by

Ahmed Waqqas Alawlaqi

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Adania Shibli
Adania Shibli

Published: Sat 14 Oct 2023, 3:56 PM

Last updated: Thu 7 Dec 2023, 1:21 PM

The Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) and the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA) have decided to withdraw from the Frankfurt International Book Fair following events surrounding the cancellation of an award to a Palestinian author and statements by organisers of the fair.

The award, known as the LiBeraturpreis Literature Prize, was meant to be presented to Adania Shibli at the book fair in honour of her novel Minor Detail. The novel tells the story of the 1949 rape and murder of a Palestinian Bedouin girl by Israeli soldiers.


In 2022, a German-to-Arabic translation of the novel was published. Additionally, a prior English translation received nominations for a National Book Award in 2020 and the International Booker Prize in 2021.

The award's cancellation occurred amid rising tensions surrounding the Israel-Gaza war. LitProm, the award organisers, initially stated that the decision to cancel the ceremony was made in agreement with Adania Shibli. However, they later changed their statement, asserting that it was their sole decision.They emphasised that the current climate is "not conducive to celebrations."


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Both the EPA and SBA issued statements saying:

"Given the recent announcement by the organisers of the Frankfurt Book Fair, we have decided to withdraw our participation this year. We champion the role of culture and books to encourage dialogue and understanding between people. We believe that this role is more important than ever."

In a LinkedIn Post, Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, founder of EPA and chairperson of SBA, said: "I strongly believe in the fundamental rights of civilians worldwide to live in safety, free from the dangers of armed conflict. In times of crisis and conflict, I strongly advocate for the role of books, culture, authors, book fairs, intellectuals, and artists in promoting unity, de-escalating tensions, and making diverse voices heard. By doing so, we can improve the prospects for peace and harmony."

Meanwhile , Juergen Boos, director of the Frankfurt International Book Fair, condemned recent attacks by Hamas in Israel. Boos said they have decided to incorporate additional stage moments to highlight Israeli and Jewish voices at the fair.

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